Lely Robot
April 24, 2019

Robot Milking Decision Requires Team Effort

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

As milking labor becomes increasingly difficult to recruit and maintain, more and more mid-sized dairy operations are looking to convert to robotic milking.

The decision, though, is not simply about choosing one method of milking technology over another. Switching to robotic milking, particularly to box systems, is a complete change in how cows are not only milked but fed and managed.

“The investment in Automated Milking Systems (AMS) is substantial, and relies heavily on technology demands, an increased level of expertise and a new management style for the dairymen to learn,” says Tim Baumgartner, team leader of dairy lending for Compeer Financial.

“AMS demands the same high level of management intensity as a well-run conventional dairy. In the end, the primary function of the robot is to harvest milk. [But] managing the cow, the system and making good decisions are vital to the overall success of the business,” he says.

He recommends pulling together an advisory team when researching the conversion to robotic milking. Team members should include a manufacturer’s representative, local dealer, veterinarian, nutrition consultant, building contractor, a business consultant and your lender.

“Expectations of productivity, efficiency and costs need to be well researched and realistic when evaluating the potential results for each individual dairy,” Baumgartner says. “By taking the time for due diligence in planning your new set up, it will enhance the potential of success for the significant investment your making your dairy.”

Use of such a planning team will take time and might even feel cumbersome, he says, but it will likely pay dividends to ensure a transition to automated milking is done correctly.

For more information on developing a robotic planning team, click here.