Robot milker a no brainer for farmer
Manawatu farmer Greg Gemmell says the decision to install automatic milking machines was a ‘‘no-brainer’’.
Robotic milking allowed him to roll over and not get out of bed at 5am each day to milk.
More than 200 people checked out three Lely Astronaut machines at Margaret and Brian Schnell’s Manawatu farm near Bunnythorpe.
They have owned the farm for 32 years and now their daughter Amy and her husband Greg Gemmell are sharemilkers on the farm.
Gemmell said he and his wife Amy went from milking the herd through a herringbone shed in a sharemilking arrangement to robots installed at the beginning of the season.
The automatic milkers cost about $250,000 each.
‘‘We went from no automation on farm to three robotic, fully automated machines with all of the extras’’.
Gemmell said it took about three days for the cows to get used to the robots and they now lined up to enter the milking machine.
They were milked by robot, and had a small amount of grain feed and molasses to tempt them into milking.
The cows came in for milking 2.4 to 2.6 times a day, said Lely marketing and communications manager Sarah Buchanan.
She said cows came in of their own volition more than twice a day, which accounted for higher milk production.
Gemmell said they were only a few months into their new venture and he could see no downside.
The Gemmells herd is made up of 240 friesian cows, with about 75 per cent calving for spring milking, and the rest as autumn calvers.
All the cows were milked through the Lely robots, which knows where to place cups by a transponder on the neck of each animal.
‘‘In the conventional system of milking twice a day it was taking me six hours to milk the cows. This system of automatic milking machines means I get those six hours back to work on the farm, or be with the family.’’
He said the extra time was a great for him as he was not physically milking cows each day.
‘‘I check the computers for flashing lights. But I am able to go away for 24 hours and the cows are still being milked. The thing is, they like it and come in regularly for milking.’’
He said the robots meant he had less staff.
Lely Manawatu representative, Steve Bromley said the machines did all the tests that go on in a cowshed.
Dairy farmers look at a Lely robot milking machine on Gemmells farm in Manawatu.