Install and Start up a Milking Robot in Just Five Steps

Published on Wed, 05/17/2023 - 1:58pm

Install and Start up a Milking Robot in Just Five Steps.

 Article and photos provided by BouMatic.

Deciding to equip your farm with a milking robot requires careful consideration. But once the final decision has been made, there are some key steps to consider. Let’s go through the steps together with Arnaud Dubosc, Robotics Manager at BouMatic.

Step 1: Think Like A Cow
“Whenever I meet a robotics project leader, I always start by talking about cows. If the tool works for the cows, it also works for the farmer."

Cows are social animals that don’t like being far away from its herd or walking to the other end of the barn. Cows will be more comfortable being milked if the robot is in the middle of the barn and they can easily see their fellow animals. “Our rear-milking robots provide cows with a clear view to their right and left.” Cows prefer being milked with milking arms that are less visible, quieter, and not too distracting. Rear milking meets all these criteria.

You also should think “like a dominated cow” or “like a cow lactating for the first time”: can they easily access the robot; will they feel comfortable in their environment? Reducing the stress of the herd means less adrenaline, more oxytocin, and therefore more milk.

Step 2: Integrate The Robot Into Your System
The sorting process can be simple or more complex. The robot can sort for situations like separating and putting through the more fragile cows first, sorting the cows that are to be inseminated or that are ready to calve, sending a lot for a hoofbath, etc.

When choosing where to position the robot in the barn, study the different options that the sorting doors offer and to evaluate the flexibility and speed of installation. “When we start researching a robotics project, we ask the farmer to share their specifications and we put together a 3D plan so that we can explore all the different circulation options.”

Step 3: Evaluate The Technical And Practical Aspects
In terms of operational planning, look at the options available for accessing the udders manually to dry off the udders. With a rear milking system, the arms can be removed easily and placed out of reach of the animal, making it easier for the farmer to access the udder.

Another practical aspect: the space that the system takes up. Does a specific machine room need building for the robot? Will it take up a lot of space? “We deliver a plug-and-play tool that is ready to use straight away. The milking area and machine room are delivered together – everything is integrated. All we need are the ducts to run electricity, water, air, feed, milk, and an internet cable through it.”

Step 4: Carry Out A Geobiological Assessment Of The Site
As cows are infinitely more sensitive to currents than humans are, it’s recommended to have a geobiologist evaluate the planned robot installation site around 6 months before the installation. Actions can be taken to resolve any electrical problems in advance. If this isn’t possible, another site will need to be considered. A repeat evaluation is recommended around one and a half months after the robot has been started up.

Step 5: Monitor The Health And Ration Of The Herd
Before the implementation, and throughout the first year of using the robot, a very precise nutritional monitoring process needs to be put in place to evaluate the quantities of feed and concentrate consumed and the variations in costs brought about by robotic milking.

In the same vein, it’s also a good idea for the farmer to review the health of their cows’ hoofs and the sanitary quality of the milk with their vet. While installing a robot does not “create” any health problems, it can amplify some existing issues.