Robotic rotary farm announced

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Dornauf Dairies at Moltema, Tasmania, will install the DeLaval AMRTM, later this year, making it Australia's first commercial dairy farm to use the revolutionary automatic milking rotary which was developed in collaboration with the FutureDairy project.

Currently three generations of the Dornauf family - Ian and Jenny, Chris and Lynn and Nick - run three separate dairy operations, collectively milking more than 1100 cows. The Dornauf AMRTM will be installed at a completely new site, with this operation scaling up over two to three years to milk 500-600 cows in a voluntary cow traffic system.

The AMRTM will help the Dornaufs to focus on individual cow and herd performance rather than the manual task of milking cows.

"We are very excited about moving to a large scale automatic milking operation," said Chris Dornauf.

Managing Director for DeLaval Australia, Mark Smith, said the Dornauf installation was part of the ‘pilot phase' which caters to the final stages of development and the first stages of commercialisation. This is standard procedure for DeLaval with new milking equipment.

"Because the AMRTM system is based upon new technology and is a quantum leap in the dairy industry, DeLaval will start with a limited number of commercial releases, so that we can secure performance in real life conditions and make any necessary adjustments before we offer the product more widely," said Mr Smith.

The FutureDairy team will be involved during this stage, supporting the Dornaufs as they adapt their management system to this new way of farming.

FutureDairy Chair, Shirley Harlock, said this was an important part of the R&D process.

While the robotic rotary was developed for pasture-based systems and tested at Camden, the Dornaufs will be the first in Australia to use it in a commercial setting and with voluntary movement of cows.

"The robotic rotary is not just a new piece of equipment. It involves a very different way of farming. If the industry is to reap the benefits from this revolutionary technology, we need to provide the support needed as farmers adapt to this new dairying system," said Mrs Harlock.

The Dornauf installation will be conducted by their local DeLaval dealership, AgriTech, which is run by Laurie Hooper and Peter Gaffney.

A field day is planned to showcase the technology in the beginning of next year. The farm will not be open to the public during the installation and commissioning phase.

FutureDairy is a private-public-industry collaboration of Dairy Australia, DeLaval, The University of Sydney and Industry & Investment, NSW.