Swiss Federal Research Station for Agricultural Economics and Engineering, Tänikon

Management of automatic milking systems

Despite increasingly difficult economic conditions, automatic milking systems (AMS) continue to attract a surprisingly high level of interest. The efficiency of an AMS and the process- and working time requirements associated with it are of special interest for maximum economy of use. Measurements on the requisite process times and working time requirements were carried out on a total of six farms with herds of between 37 and 66 dairy cows (53 cows on average). The results showed some very wide fluctuations between individual farms. The fluctuation range exceeded 100%, particularly for the preparation and attachment of the milking cluster. The average process time requirement for a milking operation was 2.6 MPh (min = 1.8 MPmin; max = 3.3 MPmin). On the basis of the process times, the potential system performance of single-stall systems with between 50 and 70 cows milked daily can be determined as a function of milk yield and average milk yield per minute.At 1.6 – 2.1 MPh per farm, the daily working time requ irement was also subject to wide fluctuation. Here it was found that the working time requirement for AMS in single-stall systems depends essentially not on herd size, but rather on the length of time AMS is used on the farm. The longer AMS is in operation on the farm, the less tends to be the amount of totally or partially unplannable work on the one hand, and the percentage of dairy cows which have to be driven to the milking stall on the other.

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