With well over 40 years of farming under his belt, Graham is certain the decision to fill the pit of his 20 year old 24 aside Herringbone shed and replace it with four Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots is the right one for him and his family.

No stranger to the ins and outs of farming, Graham has spent over 40 years farming in various regions of New Zealand before the decision was made to sell the majority of his sheep and beef farm (keeping 55 hectares to use as a run-off). North bound Graham has been spending the past couple of seasons developing a 200 hectare dairy which isn’t only environmentally friendly; it’s now also future proof. Thanks to the Lely Astronaut robotic milking system.

Change to the Lely Astronaut

On his Northland dairy farm, Graham eagerly awaited the installation of his red robots to help him better monitor his 200 dairy cows, saying “the advent of higher technology and systems makes the need for automation more prevalent. Individual cow analysis versus whole herd analysis is the most progressive reason behind the change to Lely robots”. Looking at his options when it came to converting his shed, Graham chose Lely as he believed “Lely to be the more forward thinking company in comparison to its competitors. I think in a very short time everyone will need to know more about their cows and robotics allow for that”. 

Less cow waste

For Graham, the advantages of having robots far exceed the ability to milk 24/7, 365 days a year. With the implementation of robots Graham is able to tread softly on the environment, whilst boosting production levels without having to build up herd numbers. Graham says “environmentally the discharge of cow waste is less by a large proportion. With the robots it is a mere ten minutes of standing for the cows and this will lower waste material significantly”.

Improvements in production

The milk production of the herd has increased since the installation of Lely robots on the farm. “Once we moved into robot things improved a lot for the rest of the season so that was a pleasant surprise and in this year compared to last year we're doing a whole lot better production wise.” says Hayley Turner. 

Help from the Lely Center

According to Rebecca Turner “ You get told all about how to train the cows, but when you're actually doing it, it's quite daunting, and I found that the support we got from Lely with training was great, I mean we literally couldn't have done it. You're sort of in a haze but you know it's good to have technicians and trainers there that know what they're doing. So if you don't know what you're doing, at least you have someone that can be like, it's time to do this now.”

Having contact with the cows

Rebacca and Hayley Turner were told by many people that they no longer will have contact with their cows once they will have the Automatic milking system but through this system they get information about health, milking and feeding behaviour of each individual cow, so feel they have much closer contact with their cows than ever before. Hayley comments “I think a lot of people think that because they're going through an automated system that you're not in contact with cows as much but the truth is, without the distraction of having to stand there and cup cows you notice a whole lot more. Like when I go into the shed to look at my cows that's all I'm doing! I'm focusing completely on them and they're more comfortable and relaxed, that it's so easy to pick up on any kind of unusual behaviour. Then other times the robot picks up on things that I'm really surprised that it even did that.”

Less cases of mastitis and lameness

Cows have less cases of mastitis and lameness since they have transitioned from the herringbone to Automatic milking system. “In the old system you don't know really about it until you see the docket and you see a spike and then you don't know who it is. You have to strip every one out and find out who it is. On here it'll tell you who it thinks it is before anyone else sees it.”- Rebecca Turner

Automation starts in the paddock

Automation I suppose starts in the paddock. It's not just when they get into the shed because obviously I'm not going down there and pushing anyone out, it's up to them to decide when they're ready for milking. The robots help make that part of the process automatic. The whole farm runs in a different way now with cows just flowing all over the place all the time and that allows us to have more than two milkings a day so we don't have to stick to a set schedule.- Hayley Turner

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.

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