WHILST Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) technology has been pretty common overseas for many years, it is only now becoming noticeably adopted in Australia.
There were 32 new installations between the years 2009 and 2014 compared to only three in the seven years prior.
AMS used overseas is typically with small herds, managed indoors, and with grazing limited to certain months of the year or excluded altogether.
The challenge for Australia is to incorporate AMS into pasture-based production systems, while maintaining production targets in the context of managing moderate to large herds walking longer distances between paddocks and the dairy.
Extensive research conducted in Australia through the FutureDairy project (www.futuredairy.com.au) has increased the understanding of and helped develop management practices around, automatic milking systems.
The formation of AMS discussion groups in both Tasmania and Gippsland last year directly resulted from the need to extend those findings to the wider dairy industry.
These groups will provide support to farmers taking on the technology.
The discussion group format is certainly proving very useful in catering for different needs of dairy farmers with an interest in AMS.
A key role of AMS dairy discussion groups is to assist farmers already using the technology and those who are serious about adopting AMS technology and are seeking advice.
These discussion groups encourage farmers to learn about what they see as essential design and management elements and to gain from their shared experiences.
The Gippsland AMS discussion group was initiated by and is facilitated by Maria Rose, from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, and Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).
The group consists of six established AMS businesses across Gippsland, with a range of herd sizes and AMS systems; including single and multi-box setups of up to six robots.
The Gippsland group aims to meet at least four times a year.
Subject areas have included the role of such a discussion group in the Australian dairy industry, cow movement and energy usage.
At their third meeting in April, the group discussed the organisation of this year’s Annual AMS Gathering to be held in Gippsland in early July.
As the first farmer discussion group to officially host this gathering, group members have been enthusiastically assisting Nicolas Lyons (Development Officer Robotic Milking Systems DPI NSW) with the organisation.
The planned program includes exploration into the technical issues of virtual fencing, energy usage, and intake barriers of supplementary feeding (featuring a session at DEDJTR Ellinbank) and visits to AMS farms in South Gippsland.
For further information about the group or the annual AMS gathering contact Maria Rose on 5147 0843 or maria.rose@ecodev.vic.gov.au