Until recently, farming in general has been very labour-intensive, with much repetitive work for the farmer. The Dutch company Lely has developed a wide range of products for use in the barn that are all based on the principle of ‘free cow traffic’, in which robots take over the repetitive work of the farmer.
Until recently, farming in general has been very labour-intensive, with much repetitive work for the farmer. Cows have been milked and fed at certain times only during the day, sometimes waiting in a row for a lengthy time before attention. Although this might seem efficient, the health and well-being of the cows is also of vital importance for dairy production. For this reason, the Dutch company Lely has developed a wide range of products for use in the barn that are all based on the principle of ‘free cow traffic’, in which robots take over the repetitive work of the farmer, such as milking the cows, collecting manure, feeding or pushing the feed. As a result, the cows decide themselves when to eat, drink, relax or be milked, while the farmer can focus on individual tasks or animals that need attention.
Lely’s Astronaut robotic milking system
At the centre of the free cow traffic concept is Lely’s Astronaut robotic milking system. It is the most reliable ‘employee’ one can image, ready to work 24/7 all year around. Introducing the robotic milking system has revolutionized working on the dairy farm as milking is its most labour-intensive activity and has a direct effect on the farm’s profitability.
From ‘hands on’ to ‘managing’ a farm
The Astronaut offers a unique daily insight of the production and well-being of every individual cow. Milk is analysed at every milking, allowing the farmer to closely monitor herd and individual cow performance. This enables the farmer to act or react quickly and to concentrate on optimizing both the quantity and quality of milk production. The information automatically generated by the milking system gives an opportunity to focus on enhancing the wellbeing of the cow. The introduction of Lely’s Astronaut milking system has led to a method of business that now ranges from ‘hands on’ to ‘managing’ a farm. This is a totally new and different concept of dairy farming. Lely supports this conceptual change by offering additional services such as farm management systems that link all aspects of dairy farming, such as milking and feeding.
Sustainable, profitable and enjoyable future in farming
With well over 20,000 robotic milking systems sold to date, Lely is one of the global market leaders, a success that is clearly evident. Lely’s objective is to provide dairy farmers with insights into their farm processes and outcomes, which will put their results into perspective. This will improve cow health and optimize daily business operations. Proper processing of these data in combination with decision support systems will ultimately improve animal monitoring and decision-making, thus further enabling Lely to support farmers in their choices and create a bright and sustainable future in farming.
The Lely Campus
Talent from multiple technical and agricultural universities is brought together on the Lely Campus in Maassluis, close to Rotterdam. With several universities Lely is involved in long-term robotics and animal research. Next to this Lely is active in the global start-up ecosystem.
Author: Serge Loosveld, Director Product Development at Lely