With around a third of a dairy farm’s labour being taken up by milking, freeing up time means more capacity for other tasks, says Lely’s Addi Kidson. “You can focus more energy on breeding or grassland management and the health and wellbeing of your animals on a more systematic basis, rather than having to find time to deal with those.
It means you can focus on the higher grade tasks,” she adds. The wealth of data and reports from Lely Horizon also supports this. “Horizon collects 200 values per cow per day and makes it easy for a human to interpret and act on the data. You can easily identify cows that need extra attention.
Labour can be redistributed which may mean more time for care of calves as well as cows. Paying close attention to calves is so important for the future of the herd,” says Addi. For more information on how Lely can help with calf management see our blog Giving calves the best start with Lely Calm.
Consistency is also a major consideration. “The cows will be milked in the exact same way every single time. There is no longer any potential for human error. Even with the best herdspeople there is some level of inconsistency. And of course, the machine won’t ever wake up in a bad mood and it always has infinite patience!”
There are maintenance tasks associated with AMS such as keeping an eye on the machine and chemical levels. “It is very similar to a parlour which has to be washed down, but with the Astronaut a lot of the maintenance is automatic.”
Other knock-on benefits include that you no longer have a collecting yard to wash out. Some Lely farmers have commented that they use less water and storage of slurry because of this.
The main practical difference of course is that farmers and their staff are no longer tied to milking times with AMS as cows are milked on their own timeframe and the Astronaut is available to them 24/7. It also means that labour shortages are no longer such a big concern, says Addi. “Many farmers have the worry of what would happen if they are ill or injured.
Lifestyle benefits will vary according to an individual’s situation and preferences, but most farmers would appreciate having more flexibility with their time." says Addi. "Being able to prioritise where you spend your time and the ability to take time away from the farm when you choose can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing too."
For more information or to discuss robotic milking for your individual set up, please visit: www.lely.com/gb/explore-lely-astronaut-system/