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.
Mulwala has come from behind to knock Deniliquin out in week one of the Murray Netball League finals.
Although still not at their best, Mulwala have finished on top of the Murray League ladder after a comfortable victory over Cobram.
The International Guide Jamboree will take place at Lake Somerset, South East Queensland from September 25 to October 3, for Guides aged 10-17 years, and will be hosted by Girl Guides Australia.
AFTER the success of the inaugural Community Awareness and Choices Expo on Friday, the event has been confirmed for next year.
ROCHESTER has welcomed its new Uniting Church minister.
Kyabram under pressure to maintain vital top three spot
The Seymour sub-branch of the RSL needs information on local soldiers during World War I.
Berrigan public decides drainage works location
EARTHCOTE Events boss Spiro Boursinos has slammed allegations his annual Pyalong festival is anything but a safe and well organised function.
Handymen and creative builders will now have a safer space to work in after a donation allowed the Cobram Men’s Shed to invest in a defibrillator.
Cancer claims one of its fiercest combatants.
School's in for farming students
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