72-stall robotic rotary breaks ground in Wisconsin

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In late August, GEA Farm Technologies broke ground on the installation of DairyProQ, a milking system allowing farms to install individual, fully automatic robotic milking stall modules on a rotary parlor. The installation of the 72-stall DairyProQ rotary parlor is occurring at Mlsna East Town Dairy, Cashton, Wis.

click image to zoom While DairyProQ prototypes and pilot farms have been seen before in Europe, none is of this scope or size, and the Mlsna installation will be the first in North America. Expected completion date is March 2015.

The overall project includes the new rotary, a new 1,300-cow cross-ventilated freestall barn, and the addition of a new calf barn with automated feeders. The current double-12 parlor will remain for fresh and special needs cows.

click image to zoomGEA Dairy ProQGEA Dairy ProQ, a rotary robotic parlor. Each stall unit on the DairyProQ rotary has its own robotic arm, and is designed to completely automate the entire milking process. Teat cup attachment, teat prep (including pre-dipping), fore-stripping, stimulation, the milk harvest process, and post-dipping are done in-line, in one single attachment. The unit is automatically removed and backflushed between milkings to sanitize the clusters between cows. Special needs cows can be milked on a semi-automatic, manual basis if required.

Mlsna East Town Dairy is owned by Nick Mlsna, his wife, LeAnne, and parents, Dennis and Barbara Mlsna. For the Mlsna family, the technology will bring a labor solution to the herd, which plans to expand from 900 cows to 2,000 cows with the rotary installation.

“We’re glad that we’ll have the consistency factor down with cows being milked and handled the same way every time,” said Nick.

Visit www.gea-farmtechnologies.us for more information.

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MN  |  August, 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM

SO? do the cows get milked when they want like in other robots or do they get brought up in groups??

Lucas Sjostrom    
Brooten, Minn.  |  August, 20, 2014 at 04:00 PM

Hi Dave, The cows are brought up in groups, and you still need one person in the parlor.

Paul Dyk    
WI  |  August, 21, 2014 at 09:28 AM

thanks for the update... any updates on number of cows milked per hour etc? Efficiency expectations? Milk harvested (lbs) per hour vs a 80 cow rotary... Please followup with this project... will be a lot of interest..

Greg Larson    
GEA  |  August, 21, 2014 at 05:38 PM

Pual, we estimate 5 to 6 full revolutions per hour. stall availability for 2015 is a 28,40,50,72 and 80 stall full robotic rotary.

Ed & Emma    
August, 21, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Guess this is what you call immigration reform!!

Verndale, MN  |  August, 21, 2014 at 10:09 PM

What is the estimated cost per stall? How does it compare price wise to the vms systems?

minnesota  |  August, 22, 2014 at 09:22 AM

Initial costs are only one part of the equation. Long term repair and maintenance costs must be accurately presented by the manufacturer. It is Great when everything is covered under warranty. I have a Lely that is now 6 years old (I was one of the first A3's in the US), either I got a "lemon" or there are a lot of customers that are in for a very big eye opening experience when the bills start coming to them! We have blown through every "projected cost analysis" the Lely dealer and company keep presenting to potential customers, and not just this year, but this year has been extremely bad. ($7000+ by July on repairs only, when adding in chemicals we exceeded $10,000. Then the "oil free Atlas" compressor self destructed and the dealer wants $5000 to fix it, in addition to the air dryer on it that failed- which lucky for me still had a warranty on or another $3500 would be added to the $5k) All these costs are being covered by 60 cows, because that is all one stall can handle in 24hrs, so do the math: not financially sustainable under current Lely pricing structure and warranty conditions.... at least not for the Dairyman!

August, 24, 2014 at 01:09 PM

Minnesota, sorry to hear you have had troubles with your Lely. Maybe the lesson here is never be the first to try new technology....wait until others' experiences are the blueprint for a new and improved model. Maybe you can cut a deal on a new one....best of luck to you.

Bill Gehm    
Lisle, NY  |  August, 24, 2014 at 05:03 PM

Total cost is something that should always be considered. That includes up front investment per cow, recurring cost (maintenance, service etc) and with robots you have to accept that while you get a consistent milking process identical with every cow there is the fact that as good cows quickly become problem cows (slow quarters, incomplete milkout, poor liner attach etc) the robot does nothing about that. Robots are the perfect example of how a collection of basically conventional milking equipment operated in the ideal way per the NMC results in the typical problems of mastitis, slow quarters, uneven udders and in the end slaughtered cows. If you read the VMS manuals it tells you in several places to avoid having any Staph cows in the herd. A telling fact given that it is a quarter milker that thoroughly cleans between each milking. The one thing that any robot does is eliminate the ability to blame the person milking for mastitis and udder health problems. This reduces blame to the bedding, genetics and the dairy farmer's management practices if you believe the conventional wisdom.

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