13 November 1998

Significant bar to benefits of robotic milking

IMPROVED quality of life for men and animals is the major benefit of robotic milking, according to Mac Simpson from Lely, the company which developed the system and now has 250 units working in Europe – seven in the UK.

But, speaking to a dairy farming conference at Ayr last week, he conceded that the cost of about £90,000 for a 60-cow unit would mean few extra sales in the current climate of dairy farming economics. Cost was put at 2p/litre for 10 years for a herd with a 500,000-litre quota.

Cow welfare and disease control was also improved by automatic milking by quarter. He claimed that there could be a variation from four minutes to more than 10 in milking time for individual quarters on the same cow.

"Where a quarter is being treated for mastitis, the computer can be programmed to discard that milk. All fore milk is discarded and the process repeated if the unit falls off," said Mr Simpson.

He said the system would give early warning of mastitis and would also give a cow activity report which could assist heat detection. &#42