Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: September 12, 2004
Publication Date: September 30, 2004
Citation: Rotz, C.A., Soder, K.J. 2004. Is robotic milking a viable option?. Dairy Digest. 9:4. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: If you are in the market for a new milking system, you may be wondering if you should consider a robotic (automatic) milking system over a traditional parlor system. We systematically compared the benefits of robotic milking systems and new traditional milking systems using a whole-farm approach. Our objective was to compare long-term farm performance and profitability using these milking systems on farm sizes of 30 to 270 cows with moderate and high producing herds to determine where robotic milking might provide the greatest benefit. Factors such as the effect on milk production, milk quality, and feed use were considered along with their interaction on crop production, feed storage, feeding, and manure handling processes. While well-managed traditional systems normally provided the greatest economic return for all farm sizes, robotic systems were competitive on farms of 50-130 cows, with the best results coming from a single-stall unit on a 60-cow farm. The milk production potential of the herd did not have much effect, but there was slightly less economic benefit for robotic milking with higher producing herds. Milking system selection really comes down to the interest of the farm owner or manager. If a new milking system is needed and you like working with computers, robotic milking is worth considering.