Ro­bot milker a no brainer for farmer

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Rural - JILL GAL­LOWAY

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.

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