Self-directed milking: Dookie's new robotic dairy

May 14 / 137

The robotic dairy automates the process of milking.
The robotic dairy automates the process of milking.

In partnership with Regional Development Victoria, the University has launched a state-of-the-art Dookie Robotic Dairy, giving cows the ability to ‘milk themselves’. By Yves Makhoul.

The improvements are part of a $5 million investment in Dookie’s farm, ensuring the greater Dookie campus remains the leading agricultural educational facility in Victoria. 

The ultra-modern dairy comprises robotic milking machines, milking shed and feeding systems with capacity for 180 cows. The new shed has been draped with solar panels to produce 30 kilowatts of electricity, which is about half the three-stall robot's needs. 

Solar hot water units and a 250,000 litre rainwater tank take care of vat cleaning, and water from the dairy drains into a closed loop of settling ponds to allow for maximal recycling. 

The 43 hectares of irrigated pastures are also automated with solar-powered moisture probes calibrated to produce optimum growth using the least amount of water.

Bill O’Connor, Manager of Dookie Campus farms, said information from the central computer meant paddocks could be tailored to each individual cow's needs.

"There is a whole range of production information that we can now make use of," Mr O’Connor said.

"Everyone is very excited to see the facility operating."

To view pictures from the event, visit the MSLE Facebook page.

The University’s Dookie campus is an integral part of the local community for both locals and tourists. The wider Dookie environment is recognised for its unique and vibrant distinctive natural features, agricultural production, educational campus and an emerging tourism industry. 

Faculty of Veterinary Science dean Professor Ken Hinchcliff said the University was transforming its facilities to pursue its future goals for globally significant research and teaching into sustainable agricultural production.

"In order to pursue research projects that meet the needs of the future dairy industry, a significant investment has been made in the improvement of dairy operations, including the construction of a new dairy with leading-edge milking infrastructure," he said. 

“The Dookie Robotic Dairy heralds a new era of local collaborations with the dairy industry, important advances in our teaching of agriculture and veterinary science students, and welcome opportunities in research and research training to benefit the dairy industry." 

Research at the facility will include optimising animal nutrition, maximising welfare, modifying behaviour and stock management, and securing water efficiencies in operations.

Watch Visions' coverage of the dairy opening below.

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