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Energy Efficiency Recommendations for Robotic Milking Systems

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008961.(doi:10.13031/2013.29775)
Authors:   Josh Jon Kaurich, Josh Jon Kaurich
Keywords:   Automatic milking systems, robotic milkers, energy, energy efficiency

It is estimated that robotic milkers will replace conventional milking systems on 3 to 5% of the dairy farms in the U.S. and as much as 60% of European dairy farms. While robotic milkers provide labor savings by automatically milking dairy cows, do they also provide energy savings as some manufacturers claim? This study provides information about energy use of robotic milkers (also called automatic milkers) on three Wisconsin dairy farms. The energy use compares automatic milker energy use to conventional pipeline and parlor milking energy use. This study found that energy costs as much as doubled when switching from labor-based to robotic milking systems. Payback estimates of robotic milking systems are often based on labor savings. This article aims to include energy costs of robotic milking into the economic feasibility equation. Energy efficiency recommendations for robotic milking systems is also discussed, including recommendations for water heating, vacuum pumps, robot motors, lighting and space heating.

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