Cow, Milk Yourself! (Lely Entrusts Milking to Cows)

Agricultural And Forestry Machinery August 18, 2015
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

Source: Lely

With more than twenty billion gallons produced in the U.S. alone, milk is a huge world-wide business. It is widely known that cows must be milked twice each day to stay healthy and happy, and, historically, farmers have planned around this routine. However, Astronaut 4 from the Dutch company Lely has revolutionized the process of milking cows, enabling them, more or less, to milk themselves.

It is not difficult to imagine a future where robotic equipment handles every task on a farm. Over the last century, farmers have begun turning to labor-saving technologies to increase production. The robotic milking machine Astronaut 4 is a modular system, making it easily adaptable to the needs of a specific farm. With this system, the cow is in control of the milking process, allowing it to choose exactly the perfect moment for milking.

The Astronaut 4 is extremely easy to use. The "I-flow concept" enables a cow to walk in and out of the machine without any need to turn or back up, movements which cows do not appreciate. Automatic feeding is included in the system to keep the cow occupied. After the milking, clearing of the trough encourages a cow to move forward. Lely claims that an action as simple as this extends robot capacity by an extra cow daily.

Astronaut 4 can be supervised by farmers through a remote dashboard on a PC or other devices. The data obtained from the system can be further used for more efficient farm management. In addition, Astronaut 4 collects data points from each cow, identifying sickness before farmers do.

Lely has already sold more than twenty thousand robotic milking machines. Eight percent of dairy farms in Canada and two percent in the U.S. have installed this system. With cows milked on time by such a system, farmers will be able to reduce staff, confining it to equipment supervisors and a management team.

The new robotic milking system is popular with a diverse group of clients, from novices striving to practice highly technological farming to seasoned farmers who want to harness the latest technology in order to make room for more time devoted to farm management or their families.

Tomás Cooney, New Sales Support and Marketing Manager for Lely Atlantic - Ireland and the UK, announced that three hundred robotic milking machines will have been installed by the end of this year. The biggest market for Lely is the EU, though it is rapidly growing in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The company has also recently shipped Astronaut 4 into Turkey, Russia and Brazil.

The U.S. was one of the leaders in the global milking machine trade. In 2014, the U.S. exported 3,009 units of milking machine totaling 34,629 thousand USD, 52% over the previous year. Its primary trading partner was Canada, where it supplied 62% of its total milking machine exports in value terms, accounting for 61% of Canada's total imports.

In value terms, the U.S. was a net importer of milking machines over the periods from 2008 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2012, while exports prevailed over imports in other years. However, in physical terms, imports stably exceeded exports from 2007 to 2014.

The Netherlands and Germany were among the other main global suppliers of milking machine in 2014. However, the fastest growing exporters from 2007 to 2014 were China (+31% per year) and New Zealand (+29% per year).

The U.S.'s top 5 trading partners in 2014 were Canada, the Republic Of Korea, Mexico, China and Venezuela, with a combined share 89% of the U.S.'s milking machine exports. The share of Canada increased significantly (+31 percentage points), while the share of Mexico dropped sharply (-31 percentage points).

Source: World: Milking Machines - Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2020