In extensive pastoral dairy farming systems herds graze 12 months of the year with the majority fed a near-100% pasture or conserved pasture diet. The viability of automatic milking in these systems will depend partly upon the amount of supplementary feed necessary to encourage cows to walk from the pasture to the milking unit but also on the efficient use of the automatic milking system (AMS). This paper describes a study to determine the importance of offering concentrate in the milking unit and the effect of minimum milking interval on cow movement and milking performance in a pasture-based AMS. The effects of feeding rate (FR0=0 kg or FR1=1 kg crushed barley/d) and minimum milking interval (MM6=6 h or MM12=12 h) on cow movement and behaviour during milking were studied in a multi-factorial cross-over (feeding level only, 4 weeks per treatment) experiment involving 27 mixed-breed cows milked through a single AMS. Feeding 1 kg barley in the milking unit resulted in a higher visiting frequency to the pre-selection unit (FR0=4·6 visits/d, FR1=5·4 visits/d, sed=0·35, P<0·05) and a higher yield (FR0=22·5 kg/d, FR1=23·6 kg/d, sed=0·385, P<0·01) but had no effect on milking frequency (FR0=1·6 milkings/d, FR1=1·7 milkings/d, sed=0·04, NS). Minimum milking interval was the major factor influencing milking frequency (MM6=1·9, MM12=1·4 milkings/d, sed=0·15, P<0·01). The absence of feeding in the milking unit had no negative effect on behaviour during milking or the number of cows that had to be manually driven from the paddock. The results show that automatic milking can be combined with a near-100% pasture diet and that milking interval is an important determinant for maximizing milk harvested per AMS.