Robots Are Now Milking Cows to Produce Your Milk

If you love cow milk, then I guess the thought of where it comes from has crossed your mind. You may have limited knowledge of dairy farms and the traditional method of milking cows, however you may be surprised to hear that robots now milk cows! We recently spoke with Australia’s Livestock Exporters, who shared some fascinating information with us about the latest advancements in the dairy industry that led to robotic milking cows. Read on to find out more.

Traditional Farming

milk
Where does your milk come from?

Previously, hand milking cows was the major way dairy farmers got their milk. Cows were milked in large milking parlors by hand, with farmers filling up barrels of milk and taking them to market for sale.  Hand milking was popular in most western countries till around the 19th century. Milk is great for our health, including strengthening bones and providing us with beneficial probiotics.

However, it is a completely different ball game now. Currently, there is an ambitious plan in the works to build the biggest robotic milking dairy farm in the world in Chile, South America. This is not science fiction – there are 6,500 cows in the El Risquilo farm in Chile being milked by robots.

The particular robot that carries out this cow milking procedure is known as the DeLaval VMS robot, and there are currently about 48 of them on the farm.

Robotic automation has helped to drastically reduce cost in addition to offering cows a greater amount of freedom owing to its autonomy and boost productivity.

A Boost To Farm Productivity

This robotic system of milking allows cows to choose their most preferred milking period daily – thus, milking is connected to leisure time. Furthermore, the milking unit serves as a feeding source as a result of the food reward earned by the cow each time she enters the unit. Also, the cow’s identity collar is scanned by the system and any important information is recorded.

With the help of the identity tag, the robotic machine reads and identifies the cow’s biological information such as the last time the cow was milked, her udder shape and the quantity of milk gotten. The machines can also measure the rate of milk production from the cow’s teat. Also, if the cow was milked recently, the robot will delay milking until the required time.

The farm in Chile trialed the robots with about 500 cows before it was found to be economically viable, delivering a 10% boost to milk production. Thus robotic milking was further expanded.

How Does a Robot Milk a Cow?

cow-udder
A cow’s udder and teats, from where milk comes.

To begin with, a robotic arm comes in contact with a cow and spots the teats. Spinning brushes slowly and gently roll along the cow’s stomach, providing both stimulation and teat cleaning. When the teats are stimulated enough, the cow is ready to be milked.

Subsequently, a small arm guided by a laser and fitted with suction tubes, connects to the teats and begins milking. The tubes create a vacuum that sucks the milk at a set rate decided by biological information from the cow’s identity collar scan.

Global Adoption of Milking Robots

More farms across the globe are now looking towards robotic automation for milk production. Currently, more than 22% of Dutch farmers have transitioned to milking robots. Likewise, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands and Japan are some of the other countries that have widely adopted milking robotic systems.

So the next time you add milk to your coffee or breakfast cereal, give a thought to how that milk made its way to your home all thanks to robotic milking.