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 24/7 access to refreshed feed, helping to increase intake and reduce waste.
“Previously we had been pushing back feed with a tractor-mounted tyre,” explained 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 throughout the 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 1 litre/ cow/ day I, with no other changes,” said Eade.
The old system required a trip to the barn every night after 9pm to push up feed, a job now taken care of by the OptiDuo robot that features a twin-spiralled rotating auger that lifts, mixes, and aerates the feed, before repositioning it closer to the feed barrier. Said to offer versatility, the robot can handle varying amounts of material and a wide range of feeds, including TMR’s, silage hay and fresh grass.
The OptiDuo runs along an induction line and can be easily programmed to alter feed times and frequency, with simple maintenance, no greasing and a minimal number of service parts.
“Automated feed-mixing and repositioning helps maximise dry matter intake, minimise feed sorting, and allows cows more time for lying down and ruminating," said DeLaval’s Katrina Lee. “We’re seeing real interest in this technology from dairy goat farmers too.”