Letting machines do the milking.Byline: BY LEIGH ROBERTS
FARMER David Morgan David Morgan may refer to:
The 465-acre farm also grows 200 acres of wheat and produces 140,000 broilers for Sun Valley. David also has a building company, erecting farm and industrial buildings.
He farms with his wife Nancy and their daughter Sue.
The decision was taken some 18 months ago, when David looked at how computers were assisting him to run his two other businesses. He also wanted more information about his dairy herd.
"We originally wanted a new parlour but milking was taking too long between three and four hours at a time, " he said. "So we started looking at robots to move us on a generation and keep us ahead of the game."
Two units have been running since November and a third will be commissioned shortly for the 200-cow herd.
The pounds 200,000 cost of the robots is part of what in recent times has seen a pounds 300,000 investment into automatic slurry scraping system, upgrading of cubicles cubicles
individual cow bed spaces separated by half height and half length partitions. Usually located in loose housing cow accommodation in which the cow is free to wander at will. and a new slurry storage facility. Cow comfort is a top priority, with rubber mattresses, which cost pounds 40 each, for the cows to lie on topped with sawdust sawdust
used as litter for chickens and bedding for horses. Sawdust made from treated timber may cause pentachlorophenol and other wood preservative poisoning. Fungi growing in sawdust litter in poultry houses may cause poisoning in the birds. .
"The cows adapted to the new system surprisingly quickly.
We walked them through the robot to get used to it a few times initially, and then started with just 20 cows on the first day, adding more as the days progressed, while milking the remainder in the parlour, " David explained.
"We had to break their twice-a-day milk cycle, but within a week 75 per cent of them were going round by themselves."
Cow access to the robots is computer-controlled. Cows wear a collar that idenitifies them to the robot and can go to the robot for milking when they feel like it. But if they are making too many visits, they are simply let out of the robot without being fed or milked.
The average number of visits is 2.6 times a day.
"The cows have taken to it with no trouble. They are much quieter because they are more relaxed, " said David.
"Whenever we visit them 50 per cent are lying down.
The robot picks up an astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. amount of information. It checks temperature, for mastitis mastitis (măstī`tĭs), inflammation of the breast. Mastitis most commonly occurs in nursing mothers between the first and third weeks after childbirth, usually of the first child. , blood in the milk, the cows weight and activity level which could indicate bulling or sickness for instance.
An alarm contacts the operator to alert to any serious problems, such as a cow that hasn't paid a visit to be milked for a while. A print-out of information three times a day highlights any deviations from the norm which can be quickly picked up and acted upon. It also automatically cleans the teats and clusters at each milking.
Not enough time has passed to know the true effect on yields but David, who sells to the Milk Group, feels that it has risen because cows can now choose when they are milked.
Yield currently stands at 8000 litres but David is aiming for 10,000 litres by next year without increasing cow numbers.
"The robots also make dairying dairying, business of producing, processing, and distributing milk and milk products. Ninety percent of the world's milk is obtained from cows; the remainder comes from goats, buffaloes, sheep, reindeer, yaks, and other ruminants. more pleasant, " says David. "We haven't reduced our labour requirements enormously, but the whole business is better for both humans and cows.
"Robots have taken the clock out of the job, because they are going 24 hours a day.
In the parlour it was monotonous - just a race to get the clusters on and off the teats.
Now we have more time to spend on cow management instead. Its rather like mowing the lawn - you can push the mower, or you can use a rideon mower instead!"
Autumn calving calving
act of parturition in a bovine female, and presumably in any animal that bears a calf as its newborn. See also block calving, ease of calving.
calving-to-conception interval is being changed over to all year round calving, with the aim of having 180 cows in milk all year round to keep production level. With milk prices currently depressed, making the right decisions now for the future is crucial, David believes.
DAVID MORGAN Herdsman Bernard Hancock in the robotic milking shed at Trostre Court, near Usk