Automatic milking is an automated procedure of milking the dairy animals, particularly of dairy cattle and that too without any involvement of human labor. Automatic Milking System (AMS), is also referred to as voluntary milking systems (VMS), were first developed in the late 20th century and have been commercially available ever since the early 1990s. The main foundation of such automatic systems which enable thorough automation of the milking process is a kind of agricultural robot. Therefore, many a time automated milking is termed as robotic milking. Its universal systems depend on the use of computers and exclusive herd management software. Automatic Milking Systems facilitates dairy farmers to take care of two crucial challenges, i.e., availability of labor and lifestyle associated with dairying. The system takes care of all the operations of milking process and cow management presently attempted in conventional milking by a mix of manual as well as machine systems.
The process of automated milking involves the collection of tasks which is particularly meant for extraction of milk from a cow. The complete procedure can be further broken down into various sub-tasks such as, gathering animals prior to milking, directing animals into the parlor, inspecting and cleaning of teats, attaching the milking equipment to teats, and frequently massaging the back of the udder (mammary gland) to ease out any withheld milk, extracting the milk, removing the attached milking apparatus, and lastly, guiding the animals out of the parlor.
Benefits of Automatic Milking System
Since there is a differentiation between the costs of conventional and automatic systems which is reduced, more percentage of dairy farmers might opt for these systems owing to:
- Reduced physical work, mainly for elderly farmers or the ones with health issues
- Enhanced lifestyle, with more time for family and other activities
- More opportunities for attracting and sustaining skilled labor
- Personal choice of pioneers who wish to try novel ideas
Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, many other advantages are associated with automatic milking system, such as the consistency of the milk remains constant as the process remains consistent, lowered stress environment, herd management as the use of computer control manages everything. A survey conducted on the automatic milking system market state a fact that a characteristic capacity for one AMS is around 50 to 70 cows in each milking unit, and the milking frequency is between 2 and 3 times per day. Therefore, a sole unit which handles 60 cows and milking each cow almost thrice every day has a capacity of 7.5 cows per hour.