Ferme Carmel proves that DeLaval voluntary milking system VMS can go the distance. Their unit, one of the first in North America, will milk for the one millionth time later this summer (2018).
The dairy, located in Ange-Gardien de Rouville, Québec, installed their DeLaval VMS in 2001. Thanks to a meticulous maintenance plan, including regular service and software updates, the Carmel family has been able to achieve world record-setting performances over the years.
“Our goal for the herd is to continually improve – reach a higher production, a better performance with the cows (with) the animals that we have right now,” René Carmel says.
The Carmels originally made the switch to robotics to get more milkings per day from their 60-cow herd without adding more labour. René adds: “…when we decided to go to robotic milking, it was to produce more milk, more milkings a day, and we did not want to have to milk 3 times a day manually. So, the robot enabled us to reach that goal, those 3 milkings a day, without any extra labour.”
In addition to their SOPs (standard operating procedures) and a rock-solid maintenance plan, the Carmels attribute part of their success to their unique approach in transitioning heifers to the VMS. They installed an automated DeLaval feed station in the pre-calving area to help new cows adjust to the technology and milk more comfortably in the robot.
Better performance and a return on your investment are all good, but nothing can replace the time VMS gives back. René confirms: “There are several benefits to owning a robot. (With) the flexibility of the working routine, which is useful, we can afford to have more leisure time.”
This point is especially important to the Carmels as the next generation plans to take the dairy into the future.