Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Impact of automatic milking systems on dairy cattle producers’ reports of milking labour management, milk production and milk quality

  • C. Tse (a1), H. W. Barkema (a1), T. J. DeVries (a2), J. Rushen (a3) and E. A. Pajor (a1)...

Abstract

Automatic milking systems (AMS), or milking robots, are becoming widely accepted as a milking technology that reduces labour and increases milk yield. However, reported amount of labour saved, changes in milk yield, and milk quality when transitioning to AMS vary widely. The purpose of this study was to document the impact of adopting AMS on farms with regards to reported changes in milking labour management, milk production, milk quality, and participation in dairy herd improvement (DHI) programmes. A survey was conducted across Canada over the phone, online, and in-person. In total, 530 AMS farms were contacted between May 2014 and the end of June 2015. A total of 217 AMS producers participated in the General Survey (Part 1), resulting in a 41% response rate, and 69 of the respondents completed the more detailed follow-up questions (Part 2). On average, after adopting AMS, the number of employees (full- and part-time non-family labour combined) decreased from 2.5 to 2.0, whereas time devoted to milking-related activities decreased by 62% (from 5.2 to 2.0 h/day). Median milking frequency was 3.0 milkings/day and robots were occupied on average 77% of the day. Producers went to fetch cows a median of 2 times/day, with a median of 3 fetch cows or 4% of the herd per robot/day. Farms had a median of 2.5 failed or incomplete milkings/robot per day. Producers reported an increase in milk yield, but little effect on milk quality. Mean milk yield on AMS farms was 32.6 kg/cow day. Median bulk tank somatic cell count was 180 000 cells/ml. Median milk fat on AMS farms was 4.0% and median milk protein was 3.3%. At the time of the survey, 67% of producers were current participants of a DHI programme. Half of the producers who were not DHI participants had stopped participation after adopting AMS. Overall, this study characterized impacts of adopting AMS and may be a useful guide for making this transition.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Barkema, HW, von Keyserlingk, MAG, Kastelic, JP, Lam, TJGM, Luby, C, Roy, J-P, LeBlanc, SJ, Keefe, GP and Kelton, DF 2015. Invited review: changes in the dairy industry affecting dairy cattle health and welfare. Journal of Dairy Science 98, 74267445.
Bentley, JA, Tranel, LF, Timms, LL and Schulte, K 2013. Automatic milking systems (AMS) – Producer surveys. Retrieved on 24 February 2018 from http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ans_air/vol659/iss1/39/
Bernier-Dodier, P, Delbecchi, L, Wagner, GF, Talbot, BG and Lacasse, P 2010. Effect of milking frequency on lactation persistency and mammary gland remodelling in mid-lactation cows. Journal of Dairy Science 93, 555564.
Bijl, R, Kooistra, SR and Hogeveen, H 2007. The profitability of automatic milking on Dutch dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science 90, 239248.
Butler, D, Holloway, L and Bear, C 2012. The impact of technological change in dairy farming: robotic milking systems and the changing role of the stockperson. Royal Agricultural Society of England 173, 16.
Canadian Dairy Information Centre 2016. Dairy facts and figures. Retrieved on 12 August 2017 from www.dairyinfo.gc.ca.
Cohen, JB and Goldberg, ME 1970. Dissonance product evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research 7, 315321.
De Koning, CJAM and Rodenburg, J 2004. Automatic milking: state of the art in Europe and North America. In Automatic milking – a better understanding (ed. A Meijering, H Hogeveen and CJAM De Koning), pp. 2740. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
De Koning, K, Slaghuis, B and Van der Vorst, Y 2003. Robotic milking and milk quality: effects on bacterial counts, somatic cell counts, freezing point and free fatty acids. Italian Journal of Animal Science 2, 291299.
DeVries, TJ, Deming, AJ, Rodenburg, J, Seguin, G, Leslie, KE and Barkema, HW 2011. Association of standing and lying behavior patterns and incidence of intramammary infection in dairy cows milked with an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science 94, 38453855.
Green, J and Thorogood, N 2013. Thematic content analysis.. In Qualitative methods for health research (ed. J Seaman), pp. 209218. Sage Publications, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Hansen, BG 2015. Robotic milking-farmer experiences and adoption rate in Jaeren, Norway. Journal of Rural Studies 41, 109117.
Helgren, JM and Reinemann, DJ 2006. Survey of milk quality on U.S. dairy farms utilizing automatic milking systems. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers 49, 551556.
Hiitiö, H, Vakkamäki, J, Simojoki, H, Autio, T, Junnila, J, Pelkonen, S and Pyörälä, S 2017. Prevalence of subclinical mastitis in Finnish dairy cows: changes during recent decades and impact of cow and herd factors. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 59, 22.
Hovinen, M and Pyörälä, S 2011. Invited review: udder health of dairy cows in automatic milking. Journal of Dairy Science 94, 547562.
Johansson, M, Lundh, Å, de Vries, R and Sjaunja, KS 2017. Composition and enzymatic activity in bulk milk from dairy farms with conventional or robotic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Research 84, 154158.
Mathijs, E 2004. Socio-economics aspects of automatic milking. In Automatic milking – a better understanding (ed. A Meijering, H Hogeveen and CJAM De Koning), pp. 4655. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Melin, M, Svennersten-Sjaunja, K and Wiktorsson, H 2005. Feeding patterns and performance of cows in controlled cow traffic in automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science 88, 39133922.
Meskens, L, Vandermersch, M and Mathijs, E 2001. Implication of the introduction of automatic milking on dairy farms. Retrieved on 24 February 2018 from http://www.automaticmilking.nl
Migliorati, L, Speroni, M, Lolli, S and Calza, F 2005. Effect of concentrate feeding on milking frequency and milk yield in an automatic milking system. Italian Journal of Animal Science 4, 221223.
Munksgaard, L, Rushen, J, de Passillé, AM and Krohn, CC 2011. Forced versus free traffic in an automated milking system. Livestock Science 138, 244250.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs 2010. Better breeding with automated milking systems. Retrieved on 24 February 2018 from http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/dairy/facts/betbreeding.htm
Rasmussen, MD, Bjerring, M, Justesen, P and Jepsen, L 2002. Milk quality on Danish farms with automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science 85, 28692878.
Rodenburg, J and House, H 2007. Field observations on barn layout and design for robotic milking of dairy cows. Proceedings of the 6th International Dairy Housing Conference, 16 June 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, pp. 148–159.
Rotz, CA, Coiner, CU and Soder, KJ 2003. Automatic milking systems, farm size, and milk production. Journal of Dairy Science 86, 41674177.
Salovuo, H, Ronkainen, P, Heino, A, Suokannas, A and Ryhänen, E-L 2005. Introduction of automatic milking system in Finland: effect on milk quality. Agriculture and Food Science 14, 346353.
Shoshani, E and Chaffer, M 2002. Robotic milking: a report of a field trial in Israel. Proceedings of the First North American Conference on Precision Dairy Management, 20 March 2002, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pp. 56–61.
Spolders, M, Meyer, U, Flachowsky, G and Coenen, M 2004. Differences between primiparous and multiparous cows in voluntary milking frequency in an automatic milking system. Italian Journal of Animal Science 3, 167175.
Svennersten-Sjaunja, K, Berglund, I and Pettersson, G 2000. The milking process in an automatic milking system, evaluation of milk yield, teat condition and udder health. In Robotic Milking Proceedings of the International Symposium (ed. H Hogeveen and A Meijering), pp. 277288. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
Tousova, R, Duchacek, J, Stadnik, L, Ptacek, M and Beran, J 2014. The comparison of milk production and quality in cows from conventional and automatic milking systems. Journal of Central European Agriculture 15, 100114.
Tremblay, M, Hess, JP, Christenson, BM, McIntyre, KK, Smink, B, van der Kamp, AJ, de Jong, LG and Döpfer, D 2016a. Factors associated with increased milk production for automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science 99, 38243837.
Tremblay, M, Hess, JP, Christenson, BM, McIntyre, KK, Smink, B, van der Kamp, AJ, de Jong, LG and Döpfer, D 2016b. Customized recommendations for production management clusters of North American automatic milking systems. Journal of Dairy Science 99, 56715680.
Tse, C, Barkema, HW, DeVries, TJ, Rushen, J and Pajor, EA 2017. Effect of transitioning to automatic milking systems on producers’ perceptions of farm management and cow health in the Canadian dairy industry. Journal of Dairy Science 100, 24042414.
Van der Vorst, Y, Knappstein, K and Rasmussen, MD 2002. Milk quality on farms with an automatic milking system – effects of automatic milking on the quality of produced milk. Retrieved on 12 August 2017 from http://www.automaticmilking.nl
Wagner-Storch, AM and Palmer, RW 2003. Feeding behavior, milking behavior, and milk yields of cows milked in a parlor versus an automatic milking system. Journal of Dairy Science 86, 14941502.
Woodford, KB, Brakenrig, MH and Pangborn, MC 2015. New Zealand case studies of automatic-milking-systems adoption. Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 75, 127131.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

animal
  • ISSN: 1751-7311
  • EISSN: 1751-732X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed