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What is the future for milking equipment?

Progressive Dairyman Editor Karen Lee Published on 31 March 2014

As new technologies continue to change how dairy producers manage and operate their farms, it is good to keep an eye on the horizon to see what might be available in the next five to 10 years.

Progressive Dairyman recently asked major milking equipment companies what they see as the future for milking equipment in the U.S. Read on to see responses from three of the companies.



jack hippen

Jack Hippen
Market Development Director
DeLaval North America

The dairy industry will advance very quickly in the next decade compared to the incremental gains witnessed over the course of the last century. This progress will be driven by consumer demand for healthy and safe food, an increasing world population and rise of the middle class, and the need to do more with less to sustain a dairy farming future.

DeLaval sees multiple trends that will contribute to the positive progression of dairy farming in the U.S. One area of further expansion is the use of on-farm automation. We will continue to see the implementation of more robotics in the milking parlor, as well as in the feed kitchen and at the bunk.

This will help reduce labor and potentially push cow productivity higher. State-of-the-art technology will also allow cow status monitoring with the help of on-farm milk analyzing equipment. Producers will be able to make proactive decisions in real-time related to reproduction, nutrition, animal welfare, and milk production and quality.


The industry will also see the development of smarter milking systems which will learn how each cow prefers to be milked, fed and treated, and adjust the parameters to fit her individual needs.

Producers will also have greater customization capabilities allowing their priorities to dictate how the systems operate. Nutrition technology will be enhanced by allowing producers to make individual cow feeding plans with the help of automated feed mixing, delivery and dispensing.

The integration of systems on the farm will help dairies conserve resources. Producers will reduce their energy and water usage with programmable barn technology that controls ventilation, lighting, fans, manure scrapers and more. Integrating systems will not be limited to a single dairy but to multiple dairies under common management.

Similar to a control tower, producers will effectively monitor work procedures from one central location. They will also have the flexibility to manage from afar with the help of remote connectivity, allowing them to make operational decisions from their phones or tablets.

Producers will look to prolong the life of their assets with total cost of ownership programs. A scheduled service plan for milking and cooling solutions helps reduce downtime, optimize equipment performance and improve herd productivity.

We believe wholeheartedly in the importance of sustainable dairy farming. This kind of shared thinking will continue to drive technological efficiencies in labor, land, feed, energy and water resources.


steve pretz

Steve Pretz
Vice President of Large Project Sales
GEA Farm Technologies

Robotic milking equipment will continue to be an area of growth and interest across the dairy industry. In the very near future, every dairy operation, regardless of size, will have the ability to utilize robots to milk cows.

GEA Farm Technologies is poised to bring automated milking to rotary parlors, with cows-per-hour numbers that are more in line with the efficiency seen in traditional parlors today. And the longer-term goal is to bring this technology to parallel milking parlor types as well.

This is a very near-term reality. There is one U.S. installation in the works with three additional systems going in within the next two years.

Within the next five years, this system will be commercially available in many markets of the U.S. In the next 10 years, the trend toward robotic milking will continue to increase, as labor continues to be the number one management challenge for producers.

Another area of considerable growth and advancement will be automated post-dipping. The concept of automated post-dipping is available today, but it will become even more commonplace in five years; currently more than 5,000 cows in the U.S. are post-dipped automatically in the liner. This automated technology is a labor-reducing tool that improves udder hygiene and milk quality.

Automated cow prep systems will be the standard in five to 10 years instead of the exception. They will also be increasingly utilized by farms of all sizes.

The next big area of growth will be fully automated cow logistics. This is an area many people are not even aware of, but technology exists that allows dairy farms to bring cows from their housing to the milking parlor and then return them to the housing area in a completely automated manner.

There will be a significant reduction in the amount of labor needed to go and get cows to bring them to the milking parlor. We have a test farm in Germany where one man milks 200-plus cows per hour completely by himself, without a cow pusher. This is completed without a fully automated robotic parlor.

The automated cow logistics system includes an automated gate, automated opening and closing devices that bring cows from the freestall barns to the milking parlor. The system will be available in the U.S. in the next five years.

It’s quite impressive to see this system in action and see how much calmer and less stressful cow movement is. Also, labor savings will be a tremendous benefit to this system.

peter langebeeke

Peter Langebeeke
Lely North America

Over the past couple of decades, our nation has witnessed technology completely changing: not only the way people do things, but also the way they think and act. This digital age has created an “I need it now” society, which at times can be a strain on human relationships considering multiple generations may be working together.

While some “growing pains” do come with technology, there are countless advantages to this wealth of information at our fingertips. This resource is no different when applied to the dairy industry.

At Lely, we are continuously looking toward the future. We are constantly working on the next revolutionary idea that will improve dairy producers’ lives and will enable them to profitably and enjoyably provide milk for a rapidly growing world, in a sustainable way.

Is it the new concepts and technology? Sure, that has a lot to do with it. However, the technology is only as good as the information gathered and the accessibility to which it is delivered allowing producers to make timely and accurate decisions.

We believe products like our recently released app program are a leap forward in helping dairy producers bridge the gap between robotic milking and managing their herd through information they could be using to become even more efficient in their operations.

The mobile application enables you to check where your attention is needed most. It assists you to act accurately by coaching you to do the right thing, at the right time and in the right place. And it helps you to improve your results by providing more insights over your performances.

This results in an efficient workflow and peace of mind. A recent study in the Netherlands reflected that 74 percent of app users experienced a daily time savings of 15 minutes or more per day.

The same study also showed that more than 95 percent of users felt confident using the tools provided through the app, and all users surveyed agreed that the technology contributed to overall work pleasure.

As technology continues to expand in agriculture, we commit to helping dairy producers find practical ways to manage this wealth of information to fully benefit their operations. PD

karen lee

Karen Lee
Progressive Dairyman