Automatic milking machine to revolutionise Australian dairy farming

The first robotic rotary for dairy farming in Australia has been developed by DeLaval, the University of Sydney and researchers of the FutureDairy project.

Designed for Australian grazing herds with more than 300 cows, the robotic rotary minimises the time and costs associated with human labour by automating most milking tasks.

Chair of FutureDairy, Shirley Harlock, said the robotic rotary was a major step towards addressing key challenges facing the industry such as the availability of labour and the lifestyle associated with dairy production.

"This is one of the most exciting developments that has occurred in the 40 years I’ve been dairy farming," Ms Harlock said.

"Although it won’t suit all dairy farmers, the robotic rotary offers considerable benefits in terms of enabling more flexible working conditions and improved lifestyle."

According to the University of Sydney, while automatic milking systems have been widely adopted overseas, their application on Australian farms has been less. This is mainly because the technology was developed for European herds which are smaller and housed indoors for most of the year.

Research from the FutureDairy project has shown that automatic milking systems can operate effectively in Australia’s pasture-based system, achieving both high pasture utilisation and acceptable AMS unit utilisation.

A commercial release of the robotic rotary is planned for 2011 under the brand name DeLaval AMR (automatic milking rotary).

Robotic rotaries will be installed on two Australian commercial farms in 2011. These installations will be closely monitored and supported by DeLaval and the FutureDairy team.

The potential value of using robotic rotaries for larger herds overseas has been recognised with the DeLaval AMR receiving the 2010 Eurotier Gold Medal in Germany today.

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