Submitted to: Dairy Seminar Proceedings Western Canada
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2003
Publication Date: 3/12/2003
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2003. Whole farm impacts of automatic milking systems. Dairy Seminar Proceedings Western Canada. 15:355-365. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Automatic milking systems (AMS) now provide an alternative to the demanding milking routine that dairy farmers have faced for many years. Automatic milking employs robotic technology to milk animals throughout the day according to their schedule. This proven technology is now used on many farms in northern Europe and on a small number of farms in North America. Adoption of automatic milking must be viewed as more than the purchase of new milking equipment. A comprehensive assessment is needed when considering the purchase of an AMS because many aspects of the farm are impacted beyond the obvious effects on milking equipment and labor requirements. Other aspects include required changes in the milking, housing, and feeding facilities. Even less obvious factors are the impact on milk production, milk quality, feed use, and the amount and nutrient content of the manure produced. When considering the purchase of an AMS, the economic costs and returns are important considerations. An automatic milking system normally cannot be justified on an economic basis, but the long-term economics can be similar to conventional parlor systems when herd size is well matched to milking capacity. The decision to adopt automatic milking is normally driven by non-economic issues such as the producer's interest in new technology and the desire or need to alleviate the daily milking routine.