Robot milkers are rapidly gaining ground in the dairy sector. Here, in the first of a new monthly column South West Dairy Services look at the advantages.
On October 18 2011 the UK’s first MIone automatic milking system was commissioned at Praunsley Farm, Devon.
More than three years later the Tucker family are still seeing the benefits – and so too are other farmers as the number of installations continues to increase.
“The best investment we’ve ever made by far” is how third generation dairy farmer Richard Tucker summed-up the decision to invest in the MIone system.
“Before the robots we would work from 4.30am to 7.30pm seven days a week, and were always tired.
“Now we work from 5.30am to around 7am with MIone and associated feeding and cleaning, and come back again at 4pm for an hour’s evening shift. Someone who hadn’t seen us for a while saw us, and said we looked like completely different people. It just sums-up how good the decision was to go to robotic milking.”
The MIone is now on its second generation featuring a new milk rack and ‘Cleaning in Place’ (CIP) unit, the first of which in the UK is up and running.
We can now offer a free cow traffic system as the MIone system still offers a guided entry and exit principle which means cows that are due to be milked are given access to the robot area, while those that have recently been milked are sent through the race system into the feeding area. This means cows spend more time at the feed trough than those in other robot systems, reducing the reliance on concentrates and improving milk from forage.
The unique multibox concept and the fact that one robotic arm on the MIone can service up to five robot boxes each, means future expansion is much more affordable and service and maintenance are reduced.
A major influence on many farmers who have installed an MIone across the UK is the ability to over-ride the robot and add clusters manually. In fact the MIone is the only robot to easily facilitate this.
“We always like to manually milk fresh calved cows to make sure there is no mastitis or any other problems,” says Richard. “The ability to over-ride the robot is an excellent feature, and I wouldn’t dream of having a system that couldn’t do it.”
South West Dairy Services have installed a number of MIone systems across Devon and have eight more boxes to install in 2015.
To find out more and to visit these installations contact South West Dairy Services on 01884 839393 or visit the website www.swdairy.co.uk