Chile starts work on world’s biggest robotic dairy

Work is under way to install a 64-robot voluntary milking system on a 6,500 cow dairy in Chile.

An agreement between one of South America’s largest dairy businesses and dairy machinery manufacturer DeLaval has already seen 16 robots installed.

The site at Fundo El Risquillo, 500km south of Santiago, will become the world’s biggest robotic dairy when work is completed early next year, according to DeLaval.

See also: How to integrate milking robots into a grass-based dairy system

A range of cow comfort systems including ventilation, cow cooling, rubber flooring, swinging cow brushes and lighting complement the growing dairy.

Chilean robotic dairy in numbers

  • 16 robots already in place
  • 64-robotic voluntary milking systems planned for early 2017
  • Robots have lifted yields by 10%
  • Daily milk yields now at 45.2 litres
  • 920 cows going through VMS this summer

Herd managers have reported an increase in yields since using the robots and stress that animal welfare has improved after experimenting on 500 cows initially.

“The benefits have been remarkable,” says Pedro Heller, CEO at Ancali Agrícola, a subsidiary of ranching operator and horse stud, the Bethia Group.

“More production, better animal welfare conditions and less stress for the cows.

The company says it plans to use the 64-robot system to milk the core 4,500 of the herd, with a rotary parlour milking the remaining fresh and problem cows.

Founded in 1987, Agricola Ancali was milking 1,000 cows in 2003, increasing to 4,500 in 2006 and in 2010 passed 6,000 cows upon constructing its fourth rotary parlour.