Though they may sound like something right out of a science-fiction movie, robotic milking systems have been popular in Europe for nearly three decades. Over the past few years, many cattle farms in the United States have also introduced different robotic systems to make the milking process more comfortable and efficient for the herd and farmers alike. Lely Robot and DeLaval Robot are considered the two most innovative milking technologies due to their enhanced features and state-of-the-art components.
Since robotic or automated milking is relatively new in the US, many small family-owned dairy farms may be reluctant to give these systems a try. Therefore, to help you learn more about this technology, we have created a handy guide that will answer your major questions about robotic milking systems, specifically the Lely Astronaut A5 Robotic Milking System and DeLaval VMS Series.
How Do Robot Milking Systems Work?
While several different types of automated milking systems are available in the market, they essentially serve the same purpose, i.e., milking cows.
One of the best things about this system is that farmers don't have to force cows to walk up to the automated milking system or spend hours milking them. After a brief adjustment period, cows freely walk into the pen as they please, regardless of day or night.
Moreover, apart from milking cows, these systems also help track their health by monitoring their weight, temperature, milk production, the electrical conductivity of the milk, and more.
Why Are Robotic Milking Systems So Popular?
There are several reasons behind the growing popularity of robotic milking systems, such as Lely Robot and DeLaval Robot across the country.
Firstly, they ensure a stress-free environment and a flexible schedule. As everyone knows, if a cow is under a lot of stress, its milk production can drop significantly. On the other hand, cows that are happier tend to yield higher quantities of milk. Since automated milking doesn't require herding cows into the parlor at a scheduled time, cows appear to be much calmer when they enter the pen on their own accord. In other words, they can choose when they want to be milked and set their schedule, so to speak.
Secondly, the milking process is pretty comfortable, allowing the cows to relax and enjoy some food as the suction tubes relieve their udders.
It is also worth mentioning that robotic milking systems allow farmers to focus on other tasks instead of milking cows. This innovative technology frees up several hours of labor, minimizes water usage, reduces cleaning chemicals, and allows the farmers to keep track of which cows are pregnant.
Lely Astronaut A5 Robotic Milking System
Lely is a Dutch agricultural machine manufacturing company known to introduce innovative technology to make farmers' lives more manageable. Their latest automated milking system, Lely Astronaut A5, is revered for its durability, quality performance, and ease of usage.
This machine is rather popular among dairy farmers in Europe. It ensures a comfortable milking experience for the cows, resulting in increased milk production and a seamless process.
Here are some of the key features of the Lely Astronaut A5 Robotic Milking System to help you decide if it would be the right choice for your farm.
Key Features of Lely Astronaut
Laser Detection System
Cows like to move a lot, even when they are being milked.
The laser detection technology of the latest Lely Robot allows the system to determine the correct position of the udder so the suction tubes can easily connect to the teats. Every time the cows move, the cups come off the teats and reposition to continue milking. The three-layer system also records the shape of the udder and the position of each teat to ensure the milking process is faster and more efficient the next time around.
Once the robot has milked the cow completely, the suction tubes detach from the teats so the cow can exit the pen.
The Lely Robot has been built to ensure maximum comfort for the cows.
With the enhanced I-flow system, cows can stand naturally and comfortably while being milked. Since there are no humans involved in the process, cows can quickly enter and exit the milking pen while acting on their instincts.
In addition, the open design of the pen ensures the cow doesn't feel isolated from the herd during the entire process. Since the cows don't feel restless, worried, or scared, they can produce more milk by visiting the robot as they need.
The robotic hybrid arm of Lely Astronaut A5 follows the movements of the cow through a 3D camera. It remains under the cow and moves quickly to fix the suction tube as soon as it comes off the teat. The arm moves smoothly with razor-sharp precision, calibrating its position with great accuracy.
Additionally, the hybrid arm's electrical drivers consume less electricity than other automated milking systems, making it a win-win situation for both the farmer and the cattle.
The robotic arm can also absorb the shock of a powerful kick. So, even if your cow kicks the machine before, during, or after the milking process, it will continue to function.
Last but not least, Lely Robotic Milking System is known for its user-friendly interface that enables farmers to modify the setting, learn about new functions, access cattle health reports, and more.
The system is simple to understand and tells farmers which cow is being milked, history, health status, and other relevant information.
DeLaval VMS Series Milking Systems
Another big name in the robotics industry, DeLaval, offers an optimized milking process that caters to the individual needs of each cow. These voluntary milking systems can last for decades, making them a worthy investment for small and large farms alike.
The DeLaval VMS series includes two models: VMS 300 and VMS 310. Both machines offer a similar milking experience for the cows. However, VMS 310 takes it up a notch by providing the farmer with a progesterone analysis during the milking process. Simply put, this leading-edge system can inform the farmer about the cow's ovulation cycle, check its pregnancy status, and conduct heat detection.
Key Features of DeLaval VMS
DeLaval RePro lets the farmer know about each cow's reproductive status as it enters the pen and begins milking. The system carries out automatic pregnancy checks and helps the farmers keep an eye on any abnormalities in the reproduction cycle, which is essential for the wellbeing of the herd. The advanced technology can also detect silent heat.
The reproduction management and animal welfare tool results in healthier cattle and increased milk production. By knowing about the cow's health, the farmers can reduce their annual veterinary costs.
The DeLaval InSight technology ensures the robotic arm move quickly and smoothly under the cow, cleaning its teats and attaching the cups to ensure optimal milk yield. It also comprises two separate nozzles for spraying. The highly advanced camera paired with the latest software and durable hardware guarantees the robotic arm completes its function without unnecessary delays or hindrances.
The robotic arm of the DeLaval Robot does not constrict or push the cows, allowing the animal to stand and nibble in peace while being milked. It is also relatively steady and quiet, making it a safe and gentle choice for cows.
Seamless User Experience
DeLaval VMS Series also offers a user-friendly interface, enabling farmers to connect to the system regardless of their location. Through DeLaval InControl, users can control the robotic milking system, view the camera, and access different reports to learn about the health and wellbeing of the cattle.
Dairy Farmers can also manage the daily routines of their cows through this system and share the latest statistics with their staff or other concerned parties if required. The system is also easy to operate, change, and understand. You can also change the settings remotely and contact the DeLaval team for help when needed.
DeLaval PureFlow technology makes the preparation of udder for milking a genuinely remarkable experience. The exclusive transparent cup cleans and prepares each teat for better hygiene. It even stimulates each teat to be ready for better milk flow and production. As the cup is transparent, you can see each pre-milk step performed on the cow's teat. You can also set it to use only water or add a cleaning solution for a better wash.
All the dirt, residue, and pre-milk are removed to the waste container using a separate line, making it an ultimate preparation for milking. Once the milking process is completed, the cup is automatically washed and prepared for the next milking. This whole process improves udder health and enhances the quality of milk.
According to Delaval
The VMS™ uses a separate, dedicated cup to eliminate any chance of cross-contamination or residue during the preparation stage. Once attached, the DeLaval PureFlow™ cup uses a unique combination of air, water and optional DeLaval PureFlow™ cup cleaning additive to clean, stimulate and strip the teat ready for milking.
During this process pre-milk is collected, transported and dumped for each cow, again using separate lines and containers to ensure there is no risk of cross contamination.
Now the teat is dried and is ready for milking to commence, with the clock already ticking on full Oxytocin based letdown.
The DeLaval Robot features four milk meters that attach to each teat once the camera determines the exact position of the cow. The system also calibrates and adjusts the vacuum and pulsation for each cow to ensure maximum comfort and better health.
Our Final Thoughts
The Lely Astronaut A5 and DeLaval VMS Series are considered the trailblazers in the robotic milking industry. Each comes with its specific features and functionalities for an improved and comfortable milking process. Hopefully, our guide will help you decide which machine would be a valuable addition to your farm.
If you are interested in dairy farming guides or want to learn more about the latest products available for dairy farmers, such as milking machines and robotic milking systems, please stay connected to Dairy Farming Hut.