Largest robotic dairy farm in Chile

03-11-2016 | |
Photo: DeLaval USA
Photo: DeLaval USA

Work is well under way in Chile on what will be the world’s largest robotic milking dairy farm home to 6,500 cows.

A total of 16 DeLaval VMS robots have been fitted to date and there are 48 more to go under the agreement with Fundo El Risquillo farm.

The farm, owned by Agrícola Ancali and part of the Bethia Group, has seen the average yield of the 920 cows going through the first robots increase by 10% to 45.2 litres per cow per day.

“The benefits have been remarkable,” says Pedro Heller, chief executive officer at Ancali Agrícola. “More production, better animal welfare conditions and less stress for the cows. This project included two stages. Firstly, we compared the benefits of using a DeLaval VMS system versus a rotary milking system. We started using robots for 500 cows and when we saw the economic benefits and we realised that it was possible to improve production per cow by 10% and reduce the stress of the cow we decided to explore further,” Heller explains.

He says that during the second stage they decided to modify the farm, changing our conventional milking system to an automatic milking system.

“The plan is to have our best 4,500 cows milked by DeLaval VMS and we believe we have a perfect set up should we decide to grow more in the future.

There is more DeLaval influence in the cow shed with a further range of other products such as ventilation systems, cow cooling, rubber flooring, swinging cow brushes, water troughs and illumination. When the new installation is complete, 4,500 cows will be milked robotically while one rotary will remain for fresh and special needs cows. There are currently four rotaries in operation today,” says Heller.

While many farmers see DeLaval VMS as a robot for a smaller operation, Heller calculated easily after the first installation that there was a clear return-on-investment together with the other cow comfort solutions.

The El Fundo Risquillo farm is located 500 km south of Santiago and is part of a larger operation including a beef farming operation and a stud farm.

Expansion at the farm has been quite rapid. Agricola Ancali was founded in 1987 and by 2003 was milking 1,000 cows, increasing to 4,500 in 2006 and in 2010 passed 6,000 cows upon constructing its fourth rotary parlour.

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Chris Mccullough Freelance multi-media journalist