Robotic Dairying Innovates the Farm Industry
This technology will pay itself off, as well as help farmers with efficiency and flexibility.
By Marty McCarthy, ABC Rural - Filed Aug 14, 2013

A southern Queensland dairy farmer says his business is better off after installing robotic dairies.

Mr Dennis installed four robotic dairies at a cost of about $125,000 a unit, plus GST.

Greg Dennis says the cost is worth it despite the financial pressures many farmers in the industry are facing.

“We believe there’s almost a full labour unit saving per day,” he said.

“It offers efficiency and flexibility (in the) day-to-day operation.”

Mr Dennis expects the machines will pay for themselves in six years.

“I’m hearing reports back from other farmers that the numbers are adding up to a four or five year payback,” he said.

“It’s a good return on investment at farm level.

“But to be honest if it’s anything inside eight years, it’s definitely worth looking at doing.”

However, Mr Dennis says the machines do come with challenges. In the first three to six months, the machines created more work than traditional dairying.

“When you first go into a robotic system, there’s a certain apprehension and nervousness when things go wrong,” he said.

“With time you become more and more comfortable.

“There are a lot of day-to-day checks we have to do ourselves and there’s routine maintenance.”

“But beyond that time the robots give as a lot of flexibility on the farm to come and go and to do our day-to-day work.”

Derek Acheton of Teknodairy installs robotic dairies and says the devices help to take some pressures off farmers. 

“You can control this unit from a distance like from a house or if you’re on holiday,” he said.

“It doesn't lend itself to every farm but it’s a clever piece of machinery.

“Most diary animals are well in-tune so it’s quite easy for them to come into the box.

“But it is a bit intimidating when the arm does move in under the cow in the first couple of days.”

One robot can milk up to 80 cows a day – around 2,500 litres of milk.

 

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