A small Waikato dairy farm with one Lely Astronaut A4 robot has proven that robotic milking is also effective with a small herd.
The DeLaval OptiDuo remixes and repositions supplementary feed in barns and on feed pads to ensure cows have 24/7 access to refreshed feed. This is helping increase their consumption and reduce waste.
“Previously we had been pushing back feed with a tractor-mounted tyre,” said Bruce Eade, who farms pedigree Ayrshires and Holstein Friesians near Gore.
“When we started autumn calving and winter milking we decided we could justify buying a robot to give the cows automated access to more palatable feed day and night.
“The cows are now getting well-mixed and refreshed feed seven times in 24 hours, giving us a yield increase of almost 1L/cow/day with no other changes.”
The old system required a trip to the barn every night after 9pm to push up feed, a job now done by the OptiDuo robot. The machine has a twin-spiral rotating auger which lifts, mixes and aerates the feed then repositions it closer to the feed barrier. And it is versatile, able to handle varying amounts of material and a wide range of feeds including total mixed rations, silage, hay and fresh grass.
The OptiDuo runs along an induction line and can be programmed to alter feed times and frequency. “Automated feed mixing and repositioning helps maximise dry matter intake and minimise feed sorting, and it allows cows more time for lying down and ruminating,” said DeLaval’s Katrina Lee. “We’re seeing interest in this technology from dairy goat farmers too.”