Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do robots work on a pasture-based system?
Robotic milking and pasture-based systems have been proven successful time and time again. Lely pioneered the ABC grazing system and continues to refine processes and products within that model. Depending on your needs and management style, our systems will help you to meet organic or grazing protocols so cows can be free to go outdoors for certain hours of the day — just to give the cows some play and lunge area — or for full efficient grazing, where the primary goal is to make full usage of the growth season and be as efficient as possible utilizing pasture.
2. How many cows per robot?
A Lely Astronaut A5 robotic milking system can milk 60 cows per robot or more, with an average of 2.6 milkings per cow per day. These figures are dependent on factors such as milk speed and production. Typically a robot can achieve 180 milkings per day with a goal of harvesting 5000 pounds of milk per day.
3. When was the first robot installed?
On a global level, the first-ever milking robot was installed by Lely in the Netherlands in 1992. The first milking robot installed on a pastured-based system in the U.S. was in New York state in 2007. This paved the way to acceptance on dozens of pasture-based systems throughout the U.S. and Canada.
4. What information do the robots provide?
- Fat and protein indication per cow
- Lactose indication per cow
- Fat-to-protein ratio
- Conductivity per quarter
- Automatic heat detection
- Rumination monitoring
- Live weight measurement of cows
- Milk temperature
- Color of the milk per quarter
- Milk speed
- Milk quality
- Udder health reporting
- Precision lactation based feeding
- Total milk volume
- Daily milk volume
- Ketosis indication
- Acidosis indication
- Number of milkings per cow
- Cow location
- And much more
5. Are milking robots water and energy efficient?
Yes, studies have shown that they use less than a conventional milking system. Click here to see an audit done by The Iowa Dairy Center & Northeast Iowa Community College
6. Can robots be installed in my existing facility?
Yes, we have been very successful retrofitting existing facilities from tie-stall barns to multiple-barn facilities as long as there is adequate space to install the milking robot, and for cows to enter and exit the milking robot. Many times, the only change in the cow’s world is how she gets milked. She eats, sleeps and socializes in the same environment.
7. Can you achieve labor savings or more flexible schedules in a robotic milking system?
Robots offer a great deal of freedom and flexibility of lifestyles and labor. Labor requirements vary based on management style, herd size and needs. Lely’s goal is help you become more efficient and flexible with labor and your time.
8. Can I transition my existing cows to a robotic milking system?
Experience shows that with even the most content herds, cows in robotic milking systems become more relaxed and easier to manage. This is due to free-cow traffic systems and cows having the freedom to choose their own milking times. With 24-hour milking, timid cows can avoid higher ranking cows which cause a lot of stress in a herd. This system allows all cows to realize their full potential and offers a stress-free and more natural environment for a cow.
9. How do you manage treatment or separation milk cows?
Colostrum cows or cows on milk separation can remain in the main herd. When such a cow is milked in the robot, the milk is diverted to a second milk tank or collection buckets and the robot is rinsed post-milking to ensure there is no contamination between cows. Once the withholding period has finished, the cow’s milk will then be automatically sent back to the main consumable milk tank.
10. Do cows produce more milk in a robotic milking system?
A recent study from CRV Netherlands concerning 13,800 dairy farms and 1.3 million cows, shows that Lely milking robots achieve an average of 10% more milk per year than conventional milking systems and 3.5% more compared to other milking robot manufacturers.
11. How do I find out if my existing facility can be retrofitted for robotic milking or if I should build a new facility?
In most cases, your current farm layout is suitable for Lely robotic milking systems. Your local Lely Center will visit your farm to determine the suitability, and provide a personalized design and layout to suit your farm and its needs.
12. As an organic producer, can I divert organic milk from the milking robot to feed my calves?
Yes, you can divert milk directly from the milking robot through a pasteurizer to your calf shuttle or calf feeder as needed.
13. Does Lely have a solution to get my cows to and from the barn to the pastures and return to be milked?
Yes, the Lely Grazeway selection box is used for steering the grazing system. Correct allocation of feed in the robot, grass per day and the promise of fresh grass every 8-12 hours motivates the cows to come back to the robot to be milked.
14. Can Lely supply me with organic-friendly teat dips and cleaning agents?
Yes, Lely supplies chemicals suitable for organic use. Click here to find the right product for your needs.
15. Where is the nearest Lely Center?
Lely NA has a dedicated, fully-trained network of technical and farm management specialists throughout the United States and Canada, all of which are 100% focused on robotic milking systems. Click here to find a dealer near you.