Robots: The Future of Milking?
Agriculture has switched from the family farm to the corporate farm, from walking to plow the field to using vehicles like tractors and from milking by human hand to milking by robot hand. But, how viable is it for the economy?
According to an article by Robotics Trends, over 10,000 commercial farms worldwide use automatic or robotic milking systems, and these systems are estimated to grow – with up to 20 percent of cows being milked by them by 2020.
While farmers like the automated milking because it saves time, there is a question as to how it can be integrated into the current systems effectively. The European Union is doing a study of this effectiveness over the next three years.
They will try to figure whether automated milking is economically viable, and how it will be adopted. They are also trying to determine a way to integrate automated milking, while also reducing energy costs.
The analysis is going to consist of data from the milking robot, energy and water usage, grass measurement and economic data. All of this will be analyzed and compared to the energy costs and the production costs of automated milking.
All over the world, farmers adopt these robotic milking processes because it improves their lifestyle. They do not have to go out and manually milk the cows, especially on the larger dairy farms. Plus, it reduces the manual labor needed, which reduces their labor costs and increases their revenue.
However, the biggest issue for integration is how to integrate this sort of robotic system into a grass-fed dairy farm, as opposed to an indoor feeding system. This may prove more difficult, hence the EU study.
The study is hoping to give farmers the information they need to make informed decisions about automated milking processes so they can make effective decisions about the future of their milking practices.
RobotWorx, a certified integrator of industrial robotic arms from Fanuc, Motoman, ABB, Universal Robots, and KUKA, doesn’t sell milking robots. However, we do sell several robots to the agricultural industry – robots that palletize bags of feed, grain, manure, etc., as well as robots that handle fresh meat, dairy and produce.