Industrial Food Machine of the Day: Robots Milk Cows

Dairy cows are pretty docile creatures, so as animals go, they’re also pretty good candidates for handling via heavy machinery. And there may be no better task to automate than milking — it’s repetitive, it’s predictable, it’s unpleasant. A pair of new robotic milk factories can do the job, using robotic teat washers, robot cups, instant milk analyzers, and robot teat stimulators.

Dornauf Dairy in Tasmania, Australia, has a brand-new automated, unmanned milking system, which can milk 24 cows simultaneously. The cows can be milked twice a day, ambling through a series of automated gates to reach the milking stations. Electronic collars help the robots identify them.

German-based GEA Farm Technologies also has a new a multi-station milking system called the MI_one_, which milks cows automatically. The milkers are manually attached to the teats for calibration, and then it can attach automatically, positioning itself beneath the udder and attaching to a teat using a suction system. The system cleans and stimulates the teats to start milk flow, and analyzes the milk on the spot. (The first three-ish minutes show the system being installed like a futuristic barn-raising, but it gets interesting around 3:10.)