Management

Robotic technology embedded in farm’s future

By Dairy News

TASMANIA’S DORNAUF Dairies has successfully transitioned its Gala Farm to the latest generation of voluntary milking technology following the installation of eight DeLaval VMS V300 milking robots.

Farm owners Nick and Rebekah Dornauf say the robots are well suited to their pasture-based system, and fit with their ongoing commitment to adopt proven technology that will help ensure the future health of the Australian dairy industry.

“We’ve been robotic farming for the best part of 10 years now and we’ve been impressed with the significant recent advances in robotic technology, so this is the next step forward for us,” Mr Dornauf said.

Gala Farm has a herd of 600 cows grazing on pasture year-round.

The farm relies on voluntary cow movement from grazing paddocks into the dairy, where cows are milked according to individual schedules.

“The V300 robots are really well suited to pasture-based dairy farming with high levels of grazed pasture as part of the diet,” Mr Dornauf said.

“It’s obvious they’ve been designed with cow comfort in mind and it’s been amazing to watch how readily our cows have adapted.”

The Gala Farm herd calves seasonally, meaning up to 25 new cows and heifers need to be trained into the milking robots each day post-calving. It’s a job that workers at Gala Farm can now do remotely thanks to Insight Vision system for highly accurate cup attachment.

“The camera technology on the DeLaval VMS V300 robots really is a game-changer,” Mr Dornauf said.

“Introducing fresh cows to the robot can be easily done by someone with an iPhone managing five or so cows at a time.

“Robotic milking isn’t a ticket to dairy utopia, but it gives you an amazing tool to change how you operate as a dairy farmer.”

The eight VMS V300 robotic milk stations were installed in a re-fit of the existing dairy which had previously pioneered the DeLaval AMR rotary system, which also utilised voluntary cow traffic.

Farm manager Rebekah Dornauf says the impact over time of a voluntary milking system on cow health is measurable.

“We can compare our cows that live on the robot farm to our conventional farm, and I have an older average herd age on the robotic system,” she said.

“We’ve got some 11-year-old cows here that have been robot cows for most of their milking life so it definitely increases their lifespan, with how relaxed they are, how happy they are,” she said.