Ready access to the Lely Astronaut robotic milking system brings real added value

Access to automatic milking systems is a major factor in determining capacity. In 2010 Lely took a big step forward in improving access when it introduced the Astronaut A4 with I-flow concept. This made the Lely Astronaut the first robotic milking system that allowed the cow to walk straight in and out of the box without any obstacles.

March 15, 2013


This greatly increased the motivation for the cow to be milked. Benchmark analysis from the Lely T4C management program has now shown that this results in increased production capacity. On a farm with 120 cows this can amount to around 150 kg of more milk per day.

To gain a clear picture, Lely compared the performances of several thousand I-flow Astronaut A4 robots with thousands of earlier robots without the I-flow concept. This resulted in a number of interesting conclusions.

150 kg more production

The most striking conclusion is that the box time has been reduced by almost 4% per cow visit. This shorter box time achieved by the Lely Astronaut A4 is mainly achieved by the faster processing time. The processing time consists of the time required for the cow to enter and exit and the time for pre- and post-handling. A shorter processing time therefore has a direct effect on the capacity of the milking robot. Further analysis of the data shows that, compared to earlier robots without the I-flow concept, the difference in box time with the I-flow achieves no less than seven extra milkings per day (4% less boxtime times 20 hours/day). On a farm with 120 cows this represents an extra production capacity of 150 kg per day.


Better motivation means considerably more visits to the robot

Another striking aspect is that the number of refusals has increased by no less than 31%. In this case a refusal is a positive factor and occurs when a cow wants to be milked but she is refused access by the robot because she has already been milked not long beforehand. This increase is a sign that cows are considerably more motivated to visit the robot. For the dairy farmer this represents a labour saving. The more cows that present themselves voluntarily for milking means less time having to fetch them.


“Correct line of approach, with the cow as key in product development.”

Niels Havermans, Product Management Director at Lely, is of course pleased with the conclusions: “Naturally we expect to see good results but these excellent figures make us particularly happy. The I-flow concept means the cow stays with the herd during milking, has more space in the box and becomes accustomed to robotic milking more quickly. It proves that our line of approach, with the cow as key when developing our products, is the correct one.”

About the Lely Group

Lely, founded in 1948, directs all its efforts towards creating a sustainable, profitable and enjoyable future in farming for its customers. Lely is the only company worldwide to supply the agricultural sector with a complete portfolio of products and services ranging from forage harvesting to automated feeding systems, barn cleaners and milking robots. Lely is also working on business concepts to ensure energy-neutral operations in the dairy sector. Since many years Lely is the undisputed market leader in the sales and service of automated milking systems. The company has a strong position in forage harvesting products and with over 60 years acquired knowledge in the agricultural cycle Lely has an unrivaled position. The Lely Group is active in more than 60 countries and employs some 1,900 people. The annual turnover is around 500 million euro. More information:

For further information, please contact Els Versluis, Director Marketing & Communications Lely Group,, + 31 (0)10 59 96 500.