Optimizing an eight-robot farm

During the ‘Cows in the cloud, down to earth’ Farm Management Symposium, Lisa Rußig gave a presentation about her eight-robot farm and the optimization process that they went through.

Management, T4C & InHerd, Cow health, Feeding, Milking


Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz e.G. is a company in the eastern part of Germany employing in total nearly one hundred people. Thirty-four employees plus four students work on the dairy farm. The others work on the arable farm and in the public kitchen, garage and administration. The farm has over 4,400 acres of land and around 1068 animals. A new barn was put into operation in February 2013 including eight Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots. In 2014 a farm optimization event was organized together with Lely.


Although this newly built barn was well-thought-out, Lisa could see potential improvements in efficiency: for example, how to organize the various shifts more efficiently with improved working routines and less disturbance to the cows. 

The event

Before you can optimize, it is important to determine the starting point. By observing and writing down the daily routines of the employees you begin to see what they are doing, where they are walking, which actions they are performing, etc. This valuable information is then analyzed, categorized and prioritized into practical actions.


By lowering the frequency of fetching cows, adapting Lely T4C settings and changing working protocols, a direct positive result in terms of the number of milkings and refusals was seen. This result involves cows walking more frequently to the robot without being fetched. That is just one example. Lisa states that although the employees where a bit restrained at the start of the event, both the cows and the employees became a lot more relaxed. The result was also seen in the KPI of kg milk/hour of labour. Before the event 290 kg milk/hour of labor with 50 hours per week were milked. After the event 357 kg milk/hour of labor with 42 hours was achieved: a massive improvement.


According to Lisa, ‘it is quite an impact that you are faced with in terms of your own management on your own farm, but it is definitely worth it if you want to take the next step. Robotic milking fits all sizes of dairies, but the management and the employees make the difference. They have to work together and seek improvements all year long.’