Van Leeuwens choose Lely for NZ dairy expansion
THE Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in Canterbury successfully introduced large scale robotic dairying to New Zealand in 2009 with 16 Lely Astronaut A3 robots. Now the Group has purchased 24 new Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots to be delivered this year. Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen have built up considerable experience managing large herds using the Lely concept. Mr van Leeuwen says they selected Lely again because of their previous experience with the Astronaut A3 robotic milking system and the top quality aftersales service and farm management support they received. He said knew the new Astronaut A4 robots would provide a top milking performance. The group was also confident that the local New Zealand dealer network would again install and commission the units on time and provide top quality ongoing service and support. “Our staff are used to the simplicity of Lely's herd management system and they rely on the robots to do the job,” Mr can Leeuwen said. “The cows know the system and the Astronaut robotic milking system ensures we get the best result from the cows. Happy cows and a good return on investment help us reach our goals.” The Van Leeuwen Dairy Group will install their 24 Lely Astronaut A4 robots in three barns of 500 cows each. The first delivery of eight robots will be installed in June, the next group of eight robots will be installed in July, and remaining eight will be installed in October. Robotic milking is a revolutionary step in dairy technology that offers the win-win potential to increase production while reducing stress on both animals and people. Farmers who choose the Lely Astronaut A4 system frequently point to ‘I-flow' cow walkthrough design as a pivotal feature of the system. With I-flow, the cow walks straight in and out of the unit without making turns. This makes it easier for her, shortens the learning curve and increases throughput. From the cow's perspective the Lely Astronaut A4 system is completely voluntary. The cows have 24 hour access to feed, water, milking and rest, and this lowers their stress levels. The reduction of stress is due to minimal human interference. The free cow traffic allows for them to move according to their needs and the hierarchy rules in the herd, which promotes natural cow behaviour. In turn, farmers face a much lighter workload and can choose when they want to be in the shed. Not only does the Astronaut A4 automate milking, it automatically cleans out the milk lines and the robots three times a day, and automatically washes the vat after the milk is removed.
Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen are adding three more robotic milking sheds to their Canterbury dairy operation.