Josh and Sam Clark started helping their mother Nathalie Clark in managing the dairy farm 18 years ago. In the beginning, they were milking 330 cows with a conventional milking system. In November 2017, together with their mother, they decided to install the Lely Astronaut A5 system to take the farm to the next level, and to improve their lifestyle.Thanks to the Automatic Milking System, they have achieved more flexibility and it has reduced their labor requirement. With the previous system, Sam and Josh were spending 11 hours per day on the farm along with 4 full-time and 2 casual workers to do the dairy tasks, however, with the new system they are doing the dairy tasks by themselves in just 3.5 hours per day.

Transition from old dairy to New AMS dairy

The Clark family installed the Lely Astronaut A5 on their Fiander-Moor farm in Mt Gambier back in 2018 and they are very happy with the system. “The transition from the old dairy to the new dairy was surprisingly good and surprisingly quick" says Sam. Because we're pasture based system the cows used to coming and going. The only difference was teaching them or allowing them to learn themselves to come anytime of the day or night when they feel like it. Which they certainly do now and they took to it amazingly well.

Information from T4C

The Clark family is very happy with the data they can get from T4C including the information about milk quantity and quality and about the cow's health. As per Sam and Josh Clark “ Coming from a very simple system where we didn't have much information, we used to herd test every five weeks and you get a snapshot of what's happening at the time. Now we've got that herd test information or more than that information every time a cow's milked.We've been able to pretty much cut away all their preg testing that the vets used to come and do and we've pretty much solely used the data with the activity to work out if cows are in calf or not. I don't think we're quite used as much as what's there in the mobile version of our system yet, But we definitely use it all the time for our calving cows and the health treatments but you can use your phone out in the paddock and input the information you need to on the go and also with routing cows as well, if you need cows to go to certain areas you can do it straight on your phone that's ready to go.”

Improvement in cows' health

With the AMS, the Clark family is getting a lot less lameness in their herd as they don’t have to push cows and the cows don’t have to stand on concrete for long periods. The principle of the automatic milking system is the free flow of the cows and that’s what happens in this system, cows move freely in the paddocks and to the milking area. According to Sam Clark, “In the old shed we were pushing all of our cows into the one yard, all the time they're standing on the concrete for a long time and you opened the gate in the herringbone to let them into a row and they would push and shove and pull each other which we don't get in the new system. You still have the dominant cows and they'll push another cow out of the way but it's nothing like the old system so cows are a lot calmer, a lot quieter. We have always had quiet cows but the new system really does allow them to come and go as they please and if they're not comfortable being in a spot they'll just stand back and hang around until they are.”

Grazing in AMS

The furthest grazing paddock on the Fiander-Moor farm is 1.2 kms from the milking area and their cows move reasonably well, so the new grazing system is working really well on their farm. 

Support from Lely Center

According to Josh Clark, “The support that we've had from the Lely Centre has been amazing right through from setting up the plan of how we were going to build the shed through to the installation and after installation they can either tell us what we need to do or what we were after or they will find out more information for us and get back to us.”

“Going the robot path was a big decision? We did have to absolutely discuss and figure out if that was the right way to go and absolutely we hands-down agree that it is absolutely the way for a farm to go. And the biggest thing I suppose was the fact that we couldn't get away from a conventional dairy, we really needed to be there all the time and those two people would be me and my brother, milking cows twice a day every day for the next 20 years. Lely robots provided a way for us to milk the cows and one of us could be somewhere else, spending time with our family, getting home early and we couldn't do that in the conventional system. We myself and my brother, are third generation dairy farmers and it'd be great to see a fourth generation dairy farmer here”- Josh Clark

Pasture-based Automatic Milking System - Sam, Josh and Natalie Clark (English / Australia)

Why Lely?

Farmers all over the world make choices about how they set up and run their farms. Every day, we help them make the best choices for themselves and their farms. We do this by providing advice and innovative solutions that contribute to efficient farm management. For sustainable milk and meat production. Present and future.