Attachment accuracy of a novel prototype robotic rotary and investigation of two management strategies for incomplete milked quarters

12 April 2016

Throughout 2009 and 2010, FutureDairy (Camden, NSW, Australia) was involved in testing a novel prototype robotic rotary (RR). The commercial version RR is expected to be capable of carrying out 90 milkings per hour. To achieve the high throughput the rotary rotates the cow to the cup attachment robot and then around the platform in a stop–start fashion. The robot does not remain with the cow during the entire milking process. When not all teat cups are attached during a milking session there is an opportunity for cows to be sent back to the waiting yard for a second milking attempt. The study presented here was designed to test whether or not the extension of the interval to a second milking attempt improved milking success of incompletely milked cows. It was expected that with an increased milking interval between the two subsequent milkings the changes to the udder conformation could positively affect the attachment success at the second attempt. The 1 h milking interval treatment (1 h) simulated cows being drafted directly back to the pre-milking waiting yard, whilst the 3 h milking interval treatment (3 h) was designed to simulate cows being drafted back after accessing post-milking supplementary feed on a feedpad. The results presented in this manuscript showed no significant difference between the frequencies of successful attachment in the second attempt between the 1 h and 3 h treatments indicating that a reasonable level of flexibility exists with management of incompletely milked cows and dairy layout designs. Milk production level affected the probability of success at second attempt, which was about 7.5 times higher in cows with an average milk production level greater than 19.3 kg than those with less than 10.8 kg. When looking at the total proportion of cows successfully milked after two attempts, it was found that successful milking was more likely in multiparous cows compared to primiparous cows. Highlights • We studied management options for incompletely milked cows on a robotic rotary. • Firstly cows returned to waiting yard with approx. 1 h interval between attempts. • Secondly cows returned to waiting yard via feed pad – approx. 3 h between attempts. • No difference found between 1 and 3 h intervals on attachment success. • Level of flexibility exists with management of incompletely milked cows. Keywords: Success-rate; Pasture based; Automatic milking system; Robotic rotary; Dairy