A silage-feeding robot called the Butler makes its debut at EuroTier.
Teamed-up with a static bunker that automatically fills the Butler, the rail-mounted electronically driven feeder is programmed to travel round the barn delivering fresh silage up to 12 times each 24 hours. The payload each trip can be up to two tonnes. Made and marketed by the Austrian Wasserbauer company (which already supplies concentrate feeders working on the same basis), the robot feeder also loads up with concentrates from a separate storage point.
A year of trials by Wasserbauer indicate that feeding a scattering of concentrates on top of silage boosts forage intake with resultant higher milk production – a plus of nearly 5kg milk per day when silage was fed 12 times, according to trials with the Butler at the Research Institute for Animal Production in Prague.
Does this reduce feeding times? FAT Tänikon research centre in Switzerland calculates that hand feeding silage to 50 milking cows from a moving trailer takes an average 53 minutes per day. Dosing the forage from a mixing wagon cut the daily time involved almost exactly by half. With the Butler serving 50 cows, observation time and filling of the static bunker needed an average of only18 minutes daily.
Price for the Butler will be between €60,000 and €70,000.