Dairy Today Editor Catherine Merlo writes about how robotic milking is increasing in the United States and around the world. Read an excerpt below.
While an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 robotic milking systems (RMS) operate worldwide, about 500 are in place in the U.S.—and that number is growing, says Marcia Endres, professor and Extension dairy specialist with the University of Minnesota.
Improved quality of life, especially more flexibility with schedules;Most RMS in the world today are single-box systems with a robotic arm serving one to five boxes. An RMS can be a free-flow traffic system that allows cows to operate on their own instincts, enticing them with the tasty treat they learn to find in the milking box.
The other main RMS style is a guided-flow system that takes a “milk-first, feed-second” approach by pre-selecting cows and sending them to the RMS through a series of selection gates.
For nearly two years, Endres and University of Minnesota colleague Jim Salfer have been conducting a study with 52 RMS farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. What the two researchers have found is that dairy producers turn to RMS for several reasons:
- More efficient labor management, which results from needing fewer humans to milk cows, and reduced labor costs;
- Less strain on human health, as milkers move away from the repetitive movements that often cause back, knee, wrist and hand problems;
- Upgraded technology that provides a wealth of information about each cow at each milking;
- Consistency from machines over the variability of human labor.
To read the entire article, click here.