Hands-off milking system draws crowd

21:00, Jun 11 2014
National Fieldays
Kris Fannin of Cambridge fixes up a tent on the Contractors Federation site blown down by strong winds over night at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Fieldays
The sun shines on the early starters on the first day of the 2014 National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Fieldays
After a stormy night, the sun shines over the first day 2014 National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Fieldays
The weather was bleak on the eve of the 2014 National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Fieldays
Josie Yockney wears her trusty gumboots to get through wet conditions on the eve of the 2014 National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Fieldays
Leaning into the wind from a bank above the National Agricultural Fieldays site are, from right, Matamata lads Taylor Green, 19, Zach Bell, 18 and Daniel Phillips, 20.
Rural bachelors
Pretty boys: Rural bachelors contestants, from left, Michael Paton, Jimmy Bentham, Josh Gilbert, Brett Steeghs and Thomas Denham during a question and answer session.
National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
Boys with free stuff: Rhys Kimber, Matt Hanson and Sam Smith, all 15 and from Kristin School in Auckland, enjoy the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
Thumbs up: Zac Gillespie of Inglewood gets his pic taken by Ebony de Thierry in front of a Westpac Rescue Helicopter at the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Agricultural Fieldays 2014
Prime Minister John Key tries out a Honda quad bike at the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Agricultural Fieldays 2014
Korey Knudsen, 18 months old, tries out an interesting display at the Stoney Creek site at the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
National Agricultural Fieldays 2014
Holly Duggan gets a pic to remember with Prime Minister John Key at the National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Daisy can milk herself if she shimmies up to a robot, and hourly demonstrations at Fieldays are attracting a crowd.

A robotic milking system developed by Lely means the girls can decide when they need milking, without a farmer in sight.

"It's a 24-hour system, so the cows will just move into the robots when they want to," Lely New Zealand national sales manager Sam Anderson said. "The robot's been designed from the cow out."

milk
MILK MAN: Sam Andersen.

A number of the systems had been installed around the Waikato over the past 18 months.

There are about a dozen such setups across the country and it costs about $1 million to install three robots.

But local case studies were the McConnell farm in Puketaha, which provided the cows on display, and the Weal farm in Te Awamutu.

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The first Lely system was sold in Holland 22 years ago.

Labour savings, increased productivity and better animal health were the main drivers for people making the switch, Anderson said.

Cows adapted to the system - which rewards them with food while they milk - in about three days.

As well as the hands-off milking, the setup monitors herd information such as weight and milk volume.

It gave the dairy farmers leaning on the gates around the demonstration yard plenty to mull over.

North Waikato dairy farmer Grant Kenna was after all the information he could get.

"That's how we see things heading in the future. I was just gathering a bit of information to see if it would fit our system. And we've got some contacts to carry on and look at some farms with robotics."

Semi-retired Tirau dairy farmer Dolina Gudgeon was keen on the idea but thought it was too late in her farming stint to change over.

"I think on a bigger farm than ours it'd be a real idea."

Waikato Times