Can my cows continue to graze if I decide to milk with a robot? Yes, they can, if the size of the robot takes into account the time spent in the pastures, and if equipment such as sorting fences is installed to facilitate access.
If you decide to milk with a robot, it doesn’t mean cows can no longer graze in a pasture. After all, it would be a waste not to exploit the accessible pasture area that keeps feed costs low and improves animal welfare. However, you do need to think carefully in advance about what milking system to choose, and the feeding details and method.
The first important point is to distribute milking times; these have to be more concentrated within a specific time period than the staggered milking times more characteristic of a herd kept in a barn.
Regarding the number of boxes, we have to look beyond the number of cows being milked, and also take into account the time spent in the pasture per day and during the grazing period, and how pasture grazing is organised (free access or controlled grazing). A milking robot might normally be sufficient for 60 cows, but this is no longer true if cows graze for a large part of the year.
The solution; a Gemini double box. By receiving and milking two cows at the same time, the BouMatic robot increases the number of daily milkings without taking up much more space. The double box is very compact, and only requires a moderate investment. The double box uses a single vacuum pump, a single robot arm, and a single technical area, saving a dairy farmer 30 to 40% (depending on options) compared to an investment in two single-box milking robots.
Automated sorting gates are essential for managing access to pastures. The sorting gates can be placed at an exit with a view over the pastures, or next to the robot exit. In both cases, cows are identified by their neck transponders, and are allowed outside according to the conditions set by the dairy farmer. The BouMatic selection system offers virtually unlimited possibilities for physical sorting and sorting based on cow data. For example, you can select multiple sorting gates and different data criteria, such as time, calendar, alarms, general cow data, etc.
Automated sorting gates work in both directions, to allow cows inside or outside, depending on the time spent grazing.
One of the great advantages of Gemini robots is that they have four gates, namely two entrances and two exits. With this system, the dairy farmer can select an entrance and an exit with direct access to the pasture, allowing cows to come and go freely. If automated sorting gates are placed at the robot exit, they can really direct cow movements, with three possible destinations; return to the barn, send to the treatment area (e.g. for insemination), or allow out to pasture. These smart gates make the farmer’s life much easier. All that’s needed is to define the settings, after which cows are automatically sorted.
Thanks to the integrated sorting system in the Gemini milking robot, no additional fences or gates are required, and the cows have a clear view. Conclusion: outdoor grazing and milking robots can be combined perfectly!