Launched last April, the Lely Vector automated feeding system has been winning awards across Europe.
It was one of the 11 two-star winners in the innovation section at the Space Show in France recently, and an innovation winner also at AgroTechniek Holland in the Netherlands.
One of the big companies in automatic milking, Lely claims the Vector is the next major step in automating dairy farm work. The system requires an area without any obstacles where all kinds of feed can be stored. If enough feed can be stored for three days, weekend work can be reduced.
A feed grabber in the store selects the feed, and loads it in onto the mixing and feeding robot. Automatic mixing of minerals and additives into concentrates and addition to the feed robot follows.
Using a feed level sensor, the robot determines when and where feed is required, without any intervention from the farmer.
Ongoing supply of feed in smaller doses keeps fresh material on offer to cattle.
The Lely Vector makes sure that correct rations are fed to cows consistently and on time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Improved animal health and feed efficiency resulting in optimal milk and beef production are claimed.
Electrically controlled, the Lely Vector is noiseless and environmentally-friendly, and does not disturb either man or animal. It uses only 20 kwh per day (about €2) to feed up to 250 animals.
Experience on test farms indicates that labour savings are huge when feeding two or more different rations.
The farmer only has to keep the feed store replenished. The system is for sale initially in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and France.
No installation of tracks is necessary.
The innovation judges at AgroTechniek Holland said: "Automatic, flexible and fresh feeding of cows is a leap forward for farmers, because the feeding sensor in the system saves them thinking and calculating. This system stimulates animal health and ensures optimal milk production. In addition to labour saving and restricting feed losses, it also simplifies dairy management as well as increasing efficiency."