County Ag News
Automatic Milking Sys-tems (AMS) or robotic milking machines are now milking cows on over 14,000 farms around the world. Decreased labor and increased quality of life often override the perceived high investment cost of AMS. AMS also collects individual cow milk production, milk conductivity, milk clarity, cow activity and rumination data. Depending on how one analyzes AMS, their economic competitiveness may or may not be a deal for individual producers.
For dairy herds in the 60-240 cow range, AMS may be competitive economically where labor costs are high and where there is limited available hired labor. AMS have been successfully used in freestall, bedded pack and grazing operations.
The AMS software assists in heat detection, rumination, somatic cell count(scc) levels, milk weights and individual grain feeding. Water and chemical use tends to be less than in parlors, electricity can be higher but maybe related to increased electrical rates more than increased usage. There may be increases in milk production (3 lbs. per cow per day). With good management, expect production to be 3- 5 percent higher than 2x parlor milking, but 6-9 percent lower than 3x milking.
Many factors must be considered in barn design. Since cows need to be coerced into milking, anything that makes visiting the AMS easier will improve performance. Cows are enticed to visit RMS by feed which must be very palatable so that cows want to visit the robot.