Farm Overview: Max Warren, The Robotic Dairy, Victoria, AustraliaTuesday, October 20, 2009
TheCattleSite article Automatic Milking: How Effective Is It? looks at the benefits of automatic milking machines. Junior editor, Charlotte Johnston interviewed Max Warren, a dairy farmer in Australia.
The Robotic Dairy, Victoria, Australia
Max Warren was milking 600 cows on a rotary parlour twice a day, until he decided he was fed up with spending so much of his time stuck in a parlour. He decided that he wanted to have more free time to enjoy himself and be less reliable on labour, however, having milked cows all his life, completely exiting dairying was not an option he wanted to consider. In 2001, Mr Warren became the first Australian to have automatic milking machines on his farm.
With a lower yielding herd, one could argue the benefits of the automatic machines in relation to cow productivity - however, this is reflected in the excellent longevity, the average cow surviving six lactations, twice as much as the average. Yields must also reflect feed input, and with cows grazing outdoors all year round, Mr Warren says that yields vary greatly depending on the weather and forage and water availability.
Mr Warren updated the machines from Lely Astronaut A2's to A3's about three years ago. He opens his farm to the public to educate them not only on automatic milking machines but also on sustainable agriculture and the need for clean water.
With operating costs of AU 30-35 cents a litre and a current milk price of AU 25 cents a litre, Mr Warren openly admits he is currently making a loss. However, he points out that it was not always like this and is optimistic that milk prices will improve over the next year.
Regardless of this, speaking with Mr Warren, who was so enthusiastic and honest about automatic milking machines and the dairy industry, could inspire even the most cynical of dairy farmers to appreciate the benefits of robots.