Lely Atlantic Dairy XL Tour to Germany, November 2013

Lely were delighted to take two groups of over 30 farmers to visit two large Lely dairy farms in Germany, both using Lely Astronaut robotic milking systems. The key interests to the group were capital cost and labour efficiencies using milking robots.

Dec. 17, 2013


Lely Atlantic is the agricultural division of Lely for the UK and Ireland and the tour was organised and led by Lely Atlantic’s Farm Management Support Manager, Bas van Santen, supported by Andrew Kay, Milking and Cooling Specialist and Lely’s dedicated Dairy XL Team who specialise in the sale and successful implementation of robotic milking on large farms around the world.

After introductions from Evert-Jan Niemeijer, Sales Manager Dairy XL and Andy Stewart, General Manager, Lely Atlantic the groups received some short technical presentations in order to provide some background.

T4C Benchmarking

Bas van Santen presented Lely’s unique Farm Management software T4C; (Time4Cows) which provides the farmer with a dedicated and efficient program based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and management by exception. Lely farmers know at all times the KPIs of the herd and can drill down to individual cow data, if management by exception flags up that there is an issue such as drop in rumination, weight change of the cow, high box time etc. Benchmarking within T4C allows all of Lely’s customers who wish to participate, to compare farm performance with other farms and customer groups. Lely customers in the UK & Northern Ireland currently average an improved milk yield of more than 13%, since they started milking with Lely. Of course, many of the participants on the tour were already milking 3X so these improvements should not be factored in. But a calculation based on capital costs, depreciation, labour saving and calving index showed that the cost per litre of milk with Lely was at least comparable with the cost of a rotary or conventional parlour and in many cases, cheaper. If you would like a cost comparison then please talk to your Lely Center.

Lely promotes Free Cow Traffic; this is the only system which fulfils the RSPCAs Five Freedoms:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  4. Freedom from fear and chronic stress
  5. Freedom to display their natural behaviour

Free Cow Traffic leads to a calmer and better performing herd – more milk! The group discussed the results of a recent study by Three Counties Feeds and e-cow in the UK which showed that a Lely Astronaut farm maintained better and more consistent rumen ph than a herd on a conventional TMR system. The group agreed that a stable rumen ph is a significant factor in improving animal health and milk production.

Frank der Staak is the Farm Management Support Specialist for the Dairy XL Team and Frank gave fascinating and practical insights in to farm layouts and working practices on 500+ cow dairy farms. Indeed, Frank has already visited a number of the participant’s farms who wanted to understand the cost and practical implementation of operating a Lely Astronaut system on their farms!

We were very grateful to both farm managers, who kindly welcomed us and generously shared with us their time and knowledge.

Lely’s T4C InHerd

Coincidentally, Lely’s Continuous Improvement Team, Coert van Lenteren, General Manager, DairyXL and Helmert Workman, Product Manager for T4C were working on the Ruppendorf Farm for the week fine tuning and adapting Lely’s T4C InHerd to ensure the smartest and most efficient working practices were achieved on the farm and reflected in efficient protocols within T4C InHerd. For more information please visit www.lelyt4c.com



  • Start up in January 2013 in new building
  • Funding partly by EU subsidies
  • Nearly 600 cow places
  • 8 Lely Astronaut A4 robots / Juno 100

They use sand for bedding; it is distributed by an automatic system from Denmark. The farm is a “Genossenschaft” which means it is owned by many people. The farm is mainly operated by women. Due to less than 600 cows no new permissions were needed for the environment issues.  The farm uses silo tanks and standard Lely / Atlas Copco SF4 compressors.

Below: Mrs. Dagmar Pawolski, General Manager of the Farm and Mrs. Lisa Russig Herd-manager together with one of the groups in front of the farm.


Ruppendorf Farm


  • Start up in 2012, finished mid 2013.
  • Funding partly by EU subsidies 
  • Nearly 1.100 milking cows + young cattle
  • 21 Lely Astronaut A4 robots / Discoveries / Luna’s / Start up A4 robot
  • Farm is also a “Genossenschaft” therefore it also has many owners.

Since starting with the robots the farm has reduced the numbers of staff by nearly 50%. (29 to 16 staff members). They are the first farm with an A4 trainings-box. Expansion plans are in place to add another 6 robots. The farm is an old (modernised) communistic style building using 2 x 35 m3 silo tanks (Lister) and industrial Atlas Copco compressors


In the evening the group enjoyed a tour of the beautifully rebuilt City of Dresden which was flattened as a result of Allied bombing in WWII. The hospitality was very warm and the groups enjoyed a lively banter exchanging ideas and experiences. On behalf of everyone at Lely, we would like to thank everyone for their time, interest and humour making this an enjoyable and informative trip.


The next tours will be 24 – 28 March in Germany, there will be two groups of 15 so with places are limited, please call 0845 040 6362 now to reserve a place or text 82727 and we will call you back.