Thirteen months after becoming the first dairy farmer in Western Australia to install a robotic milking system, Rob Giura is finally seeing some positive outcomes.
Three generations of the family – Ian and Jenny, Chris and Lynn, and Nick - run three dairy operations and milk 1100 cows.
They are currently preparing a new site for the automated dairy, which will be built-up during the next 2-3 years to a 500-600 head operation in a voluntary cow traffic system.
"We see this technology as being vital to the future of the dairy industry, and we are excited about being involved at the start of this revolution," Chris says. "We see this move to large scale automated milking as a key milestone in our business development.
He says the family invested in the AMR because they want to manage their farm in a way that allows them to focus on the cows' performance rather than on the manual task of milking them.
"I think this is the system that will help us achieve that goal."
The Dornauf's pasture-based systems are supplemented with silage and concentrate. Production levels on their three properties fluctuate between 520-620kg milk solids per cow, per lactation.
DeLaval's Andrew Turner says the system was developed with three key customer benefits in mind - profitability, farm management
He says the main components of the AMR are teat preparation, attachment and teat-spray modules, and two touch screens to operate the system, automatic cup backflush, automatic floor cleaning and safety systems.
Turner says the first AMR systems will have up to 90 cow/hour capacity, depending on the number of robots installed. With as many as five robots that can be attached to the rotary.
"I would like to acknowledge the collaboration with Future Dairy Project in Australia that has resulted in the successful development of this significant technology," Turner adds.
The challenge to develop the AMR was to bring to market a flexible system that works equally well on all types of farming operations. Another goal was to offer a modular approach so dairy farmers can scale up - they can start with a lower level of automation and then increase as their business grows.
"Less capital is needed from the outset," Turner says.
DeLaval is testing the AMR on farms in Sweden and Australia and plans more commercial releases in both countries during the year.