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Automatic Milking Systems

Automatic milking systems (AMS) have been developed for dairy farms to reduce the human labour required for milk harvesting.

In Australia, the challenge is to incorporate automatic milking into pasture-based production systems while maintaining optimal grazing management and production targets.

AMS benefits

In this video, Max Roberts talks about AMS and the benefits they offer dairy farmers and the industry:

Much of the Australian dairy industry is pasture-based. Any AMS must rely on voluntary movement of cows to and from the paddocks and be able to handle large herds. Research is examining the constraints for successful implementation of AMS into the Australian dairy industry.

Single box AMS units

AMS have been used commercially overseas for many years. In Europe, over half of new milking machine installations involve automation. These AMS are single box units with the capacity to milk around 55 to 70 cows each. It is common for farms to use between two and five AMS units, depending on herd size.

Only a small number of dairy farmers in Australia have implemented AMS single box units on their dairy farms.

Dairy farmer experience

The FutureDairy website has more information about farmer experience with AMS.

AMS research program

Traditional AMS are single boxes developed for the European market, which has small herds, often in fully housed systems. The Future Dairy project, partly funded by Dairy Australia, has proven that single boxes can operate effectively under Australia’s pasture-based systems, achieving both high pasture utilisation and acceptable AMS unit utilisation.

More information

Management Guidelines for pasture-based AMS farms (PDF, 2.9MB)

Produced by the FutureDairy project, this document is essential reading for anyone seriously contemplating the installation of an AMS.

Learnings around Automatic Milking System adoption on-farm (PDF, 832KB)

Dr Kendra Kerrisk and Bevan Ravenhill's presentation for the 2010 Australian Dairy Conference.

AMS resources

There are a number of resources available to help dairy farmers learn more about AMS.

AMS ‘Milking Edge’ Learning Modules

A series of eight Automatic Milking System learning modules hosted on Dairy Australia’s Enlight online learning system. Developed jointly by Dairy Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and DeLaval, the modules are individually themed and draw on the learnings captured in a decade-long research and development project as well as over 40 commercial AMS farms in Australia.

Precision dairy technology: Automatic milking systems (PDF, 1.7MB)

This fact sheet describes how AMS works and how dairy farmers implement this type of technology. Contact details of the major suppliers, together with approximate cost and other relevant information is included.

Automatic milking systems FAQ (PDF, 2.4MB)

Frequently asked questions about AMS are answered by Dr Nicolas Lyons, Development Officer Automatic Milking Systems, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI).

Future Dairy website: Automatic milking systems publications

Further information sheets on AMS have been prepared by the FutureDairy team at the University of Sydney and are available at the above link.

Future Dairy website: Case studies

The FutureDairy team have also conducted a number of case studies demonstrating the use of AMS.

DairyNZ: Robotic milking

A wide range of information about AMS and considerations in New Zealand.

AMS pasture management video

Dr Nicolas Lyons from NSW DPI presents a video of pasture management in a AMS pasture-based system in Tasmania.

Milking Edge Project

Milking Edge was a four-year national project, with industry collaboration from Dairy Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries and DeLaval. The project takes many of the learnings captured from the decade long research and development project, Future Dairy, along with the experience from over 40 commercial AMS farms in Australia, to develop and deliver an education and extension strategy which supports farmers and industry to consider, invest and operate AMS technology successfully.

The project team was lead by Dr Nico Lyons, Development Officer for Dairy with NSW DPI. Dr Lyons has extensive knowledge around farming systems, technology and robotics.

The project team in collaboration with key stakeholders generated:

  • Tools and resources detailing the challenges and opportunities of robotic milking and supported farmers’ decision making.

  • Better industry knowledge on AMS through formal training for farmers (owners and staff) and service providers.

  • Strong industry engagement through activities such as conferences and field days.

  • An online community of practice to allow collaboration and communication on topics related to robotics.

For more information, please contact Karen Romano, Lead – Feeding and Farm Systems.

Karen Romano

Lead – Feeding and Farm Systems

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