Milking robots started a new era for University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus with the opening of its state-of-the-art $2.5 million dairy on Friday.ALEXANDRA BATHMAN May 27, 2014 3:00am
One by one, a herd of 40 cows proved they could be milked without a farmer — although there was a crowd of curious onlookers.
Veterinary and agricultural science dean Ken Hinchcliff said the investment was a strong commitment to the future of Australian agriculture.
‘‘It will generate new data and knowledge for the agriculture sector,’’ he said.
University of Melbourne lecturer and researcher Brendan Cullen said the cows ‘‘volunteered’’ to be milked two to three times a day.
He said the cows all had ID tags, and smart gates drafted them to where they needed to be.
Once a cow is in the dairy, the $250
Dr Cullen said an accurate level of pasture and food allocation was needed as an incentive for the cows to move through the system.
‘‘The herd is together in one grazing area and move through three other grazing areas throughout the day,’’ he said.
Veterinary and agricultural science deputy dean Brian Leury said the dairy had been milking the herd for about a month. He said it took about two weeks for the herd to adapt from a traditional farm system to the robotic dairy.
‘‘It wasn’t as big of a challenge as anticipated. It’s all gone fairly smooth,’’ he said.
‘‘But the labour is needed. You need people to be in the shed to train the cows.’’
The campus plans to have 180 cows moving through the dairy in 12 months’ time so it can evaluate the system with a larger herd.
The aim of the teachings and research is to integrate robotic milking into farm systems of northern Victoria and southern NSW.
Third-year agriculture students Claudia Gebert and Nick Minogue said they were excited to see how the system worked.
Mr Minogue plans to be a dairy farmer after his studies and said he was eager to see if the system would ‘‘be proven’’ because labour was the biggest issue.
‘‘There are only about 25 in Australia so it’s good to have one at our fingertips,’’ Miss Gebert said.
The herd produces about 2000 litres of milk a day that is collected by Fonterra for its Stanhope factory.
The dairy utilises its waste water in settling ponds and generates 50 per cent of its energy from a 30
The project is part of the campus’ $5
Campus director Ros Gall said the ‘Dookie 21’ plan had also resulted in new silos and animal handling facilities and an infrastructure upgrade to irrigation.
Mrs Gall said algae ponds and a biodigester were still to be developed.
Shepparton’s Declo Bisimwa firmly believes education is the key to a better life.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Garners Boxing Gym in Echuca is encouraging young people to get active with weekly boxing/cardio classes.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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