Conventional Milking, or Robotics?

Debating on whether or not to use milking robots? If you find yourself asking yourself this question, you are certainly not alone. It’s fair to say all dairymen want to make the best decision for their herd, finances and lifestyle when deciding how best to manage their dairy operation for the next many years. Let’s look at a few of the key differences when comparing these two methods of dairy farming.

How will Robotics Change My Milking Routine?

When it is comes to conventional parlors, you, the dairyman set a steady milking schedule. Along with that schedule comes labor requirements for the parlor. This requires a staff to harvest the milk along offering the cows the same pleasant milking experience every time they enter the parlor. With milking robots, cows set their own schedule. The robot offers a consistent milking routine that is not subject to human error.


Robots offer a great opportunity to feed cows and not limit production. When feeding with a conventional TMR on the bunk, cows are limited to energy provided to them. In robotic system, feeding can be done on a production base ( the only limiting factor is the amount of feed a cow is able to consume while being milked). Feed at the bunk and regular push up is even more critical in a robotic farm as cows tend to be stimulated by feed push for both eating and milking.

Individual Cow Management

Individual cow management is done on a greater level in robotic milking. The amount of data tends to be greater in milking robots versus a conventional parlor. Often robots have the capability to calculate information to the quarter along with individual cow activity. Conventional barns tend to focus on more group management. Dairies wanting to increase overall production usually experience an entire group change in production levels. Also conventional cow groupings milk, eat, and sleep more uniformly than in robotic milking.

Cow Behavior

Another differentiating point when transitioning from a conventional to robotic dairy is that cow habits and social interactions change. In conventional barns cows are conditioned to move when gates are opened and humans are in the pen. This leads to cows being “chased” to the milking area. The same holds true during manual sorting tasks. Cows tend to be calmer and more relaxed in robotic milking facilities as there are no longer associated human interactions needed to get cows up and move. Things to always consider with a new robot environment include:

  • How to get cows through the footbath (as “pushing” them becomes less ideal)
  • How to handle larger groups of cows needing to be sorted (Vet check days, dry off days, etc.).
  • Also remember to consider a method of removing manure without disrupting cows. This also is an ideal situation for milking robot farms.

Given there are key differences in managing different dairy systems, BouMatic has a full offering for both! We encourage you to explore our newly released Gemini robotic milking option or our reliable line of conventional parlors and rotaries. BouMatic is confident we have the solutions to fit your dairy, affording you the ability to accomplish your goals for the herd, finances and lifestyle for the future.