Dairy milking robots have found their niche in Canada, but where do they fit on U.S. dairy farms?
The popularity of robots in Canada can be linked to the fact that the technology fits well into this country’s smaller farms and because our supply management system provides a financial footing for farmers to invest.
But more and more robots are finding a home on larger U.S. dairy farms. Last month, DeLaval announced that TDI Farms of Westphalia, Michigan would install 24 of its voluntary milking system (VMS) robots to milk 1,500 cows. The announcement comes on the heels of news in June that a Chilean farm has agreed to purchase 64 robots with intentions of milking 6,500 cows.
In this interview, DeLaval’s North American vice president Fernando Cuccioli tells Real Agriculture that these announcements reflect growing acknowledgement of the benefits that dairy robots provide including: labour efficiencies, animal welfare and cow comfort benefits, and employee development opportunities.
See related article: Who Will Milk Our Cows?
Cuccioli doesn’t see robots surpassing milking parlours as the most popular means of milking any time soon, but he does see significant growth for the technology in the years ahead. He expects the number of robots in the U.S. could reach 3,000 by 2020 and could double to 6,000 by 2025. That would give robots a market share of 4% to 5% and would see about 400,000 of America’s 9.2 million cows milked in voluntary milking systems.