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About AMS

An Automatic Milking System (AMS) is a generic term used to refer to automated systems that complete the whole milking process without the direct assistance of milking staff.

Automatic Milking Systems are often referred to as "robotic" or "voluntary" milking systems.

"Robotic" refers to the robotic arm that performs key functions of the system (eg cup attachment). The term "voluntary" is used because cows can choose when they want to be milked.

They typically consist of a milking stall or crate with a robotic arm that attaches the teat cups to each cow without human intervention, an electronic identification system, and a milking machine.

How an AMS works

An AMS still requires all the same basic farm management as a conventional system. The processes are just different in order to achieve the final product.

The process

The main features of an AMS

Main features of an AMS

The cow enters the crate and is identified via a tag strapped to her leg, around her neck or in her ear. The software determines if the cow has milking permission. If she is not due for milking the front gates open and the cow is released. If she is due for milking the teats are cleaned (optional) and the teat cups attached, one at a time. Teat cups are removed based on flow from individual quarters. While milking, the cow may be offered a concentrate (meal, grain, molasses). Milk is diverted to separate tanks if requested by the operator using the software settings, otherwise it enters the bulk or temporarily a buffer tank. Various data is collected on both the cow and milk quality. These can include live weight, quarter yield, quarter conductivity, colour, fat, protein and SCC.

Getting cows to the AMS

Automatic milking relies on cows volunteering for milking in the AMS and distributing these milkings throughout 24 hours. The main motivator for cow movement around the farm is feed, either fresh pasture and/or concentrate in the AMS. Most AMS farms are set up with two or three new areas of pasture available to the herd daily. Cows access pasture after visiting the AMS or can be diverted directly to the new pasture if milking permission is not granted.

Frequently asked questions