Automatic milking refers to the extraction of milk from dairy animals without human labour. Milk extraction is only one of many areas in dairy farming that can be automated. Farmers can for example use semi-automatic or automatic gates to control cow traffic, there are automatic cluster release systems that can be used to remove milking equipment from animals and automatic teat spraying systems are used to clean and disinfect teats.
Farmers can choose the degree of automation that best suits their needs.
Automatic milking systems (AMS) are designed to make dairy farms more efficient and profitable without the hard work. AMS have been commercially available since the early 1990s and enable dairy farmers to significantly reduce the amount of manual labour required in the milking process. In addition to lowering staffing costs and avoiding problems such as availability, AMS gives farmers more time to focus on farm management issues such as feeding, breeding, health and hygiene - as well as spending more time on leisure activities and with their families. For the farmer, this has meant an impovement in quality of life. For the cow, it has also resulted in improved quality of life as well as longevity.
AMS are complete solutions comprising automated feeding, milking, analysing, reproduction, and cooling processes. Each part of the chain provides necessary data and performance criteria which can then be analysed to deliver lower feeding costs, improved breeding performance and healthy, productive cows.