Grazing with automatic milking research

Grazing with automatic milking research

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A project to investigate integrating automated milking systems into pasture-based dairy set-ups is to be carried out by the Moorepark Animal and Grassland Innovation Centre in Ireland, supported by Fullwood Ltd.

The cows were previously part of a herd milked through a traditional herringbone parlour.  "They have adapted to the Merlin robot unit quickly and with relatively little trouble," says Dr Padraig French, head of livestock systems at Moorepark.  "The majority of the cows were happily entering and exiting the milking unit within 36-48 hours.  We are adding new cows on a regular basis with the aim of reaching a 75 cows."

Fullwood's Merlin 225 robotic milking machine is being used and the primary aim of the three-year study is to determine how AMS technologies can be integrated into grazing based dairy systems, and how to manage a grass based AMS while optimising grass utilisation and milk production.

"The AMS herd is at pasture for 10 months of the year - from calving to drying off," says Padraig.  "We are interested in finding the most effective way of setting-up and managing our pastures to incentivise cows to enter the unit and optimise the number of milkings/cow a day and maximise the pasture harvested and profit/ha."

The herd is currently grazing three paddocks to which access is controlled by a series of automatic segregation gates.  "The cows access each of the three paddocks throughout any 24 hour period.  This ensures that they are able to graze on fresh grass with each paddock providing a third of each cow's daily grass intake.

"It is hoped that by the end of the three-year study we will be able to provide some really useful advice to dairy farmers who want to adopt AMS but not move away from a grass based system."

David O'Hare, chief executive of Fullwood Ltd says: "Fullwood is delighted to be involved in the project at Teagasc Moorepark.  The advantages to farmers and cows that automatic milking systems offer are well established.  This project will give farmers wishing to incorporate AMS into a grazing based system the advice to plan the development and layout of their farm's infrastructure accordingly."

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