Lely Debuts On-farm Dairy Processor Helping Farm-to-Fork Marketing

Lely Orbiter - How Does It Work
An on-farm milk processing system has been unveiled by Lely that could help dairy producers with marketing direct to consumers and increase the amount of automation on dairy farms. ( Lely )

A new on-farm dairy processing system has been launched by Lely to help dairy producers bottle their own milk.

The Lely Orbiter was debuted by the company known for its robotic milking systems on Aug. 29 during the Yellow Revolution event hosted at the Dobbelhoeve farm in Udenhout, the Netherlands.

The unique dairy processing system allows milk to be processed directly from robotic milkers into bottles on the farm. The Lely Orbiter is intended to be used with two to four Lely Astronaut robotic milkers with a design specifically for low flow milk. According to Lely this allows for fast milk processing directly after milking because milk is cooled down to 4°C or 39.2°F.

The on-farm processing system should help dairy producers increase their income by being able to direct market to consumers, says Alexander van der Lely, CEO of Lely.

“This new Lely Orbiter system will offer farmers a smart way to produce fair, direct, and pure dairy products and to increase the value of their milk. This on-farm dairy processor matches the high quality standards of large industrial-scale processors,” van der Lely says.

Having processing on-farm should help increase the quality of milk and helps eliminate some steps, like holding milk in bulk tanks and hauling milk, that slow down the ability to quickly process milk.

“The quality and taste of milk are safeguarded, because direct on-farm processing is much faster and offers a shorter route from cow to consumer,” van der Lely says.

For the past eight months Cees van Roessel, owner of Dobbelhoeve farm, has been processing milk with the Lely Orbiter on his family’s organic dairy farm.

The compact dairy processing facility has allowed van Roessel to process milk directly from the cow and market directly to consumers.

“The fact that you can automate this entire process…that is a high level of technology,” van Roessel says.

A number of automated technologies can be found on the van Roessel’s farm including automatic feed pushers, automatic feeding systems, automatic manure scrappers and robotic milkers.

van Roessel sees the innovative system as revolutionizing the dairy business.

“I think that in the Netherlands we will eventually stop with bulk production, that we will customize products for a demanding market. And that we will intensify the collaboration between the farm and the needs of the consumer,” van Roessel says.

Not only has Lely created a new milk processing system, the company also announced a dairy product called Mijn Melk that will be available in the Netherlands via Dobbelhoeve farm. Consumers will be able to buy it throughout the Netherlands starting Sept. 9 at most Albert Heijn grocery stores.

“This innovative system is able to process the milk of small batches of cows separately, offering the farmer flexibility and efficiency. Consumers will be able to trace the produced dairy products back to individual cow family level,” van der Lely says.

The Lely Orbiter was developed through a partnership with VME Engineering, part of the Niras group. Lely plans to install a small number of Lely Orbiter systems as it develops opportunities for farmers to direct market to consumers with robotic milking.

More can be learned about the Lely Orbiter online or by watching the video above. To hear comments from Dutch dairy farmer Cees van Roessel about his use of the Lely Orbiter and see footage of the system on his farm watch the following video.