Milk production increase and structuring of a new routine (less operational and more strategic) were the main gains.
The Goin family and their farm
Up until August 2017, the Godallatte farm, located in the city of Paraí (State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), had a routine that is typical in Brazilian farms. There used to be two milkings a day, the first one in the early hours of the morning, which required an intense gathering of the herd, now comprised of 110 lactating Holstein cows, reared in compost barns.
However, from that moment on the traditional process of milk harvesting, which had always conducted the work of the Goin family, owner of the farm, has been replaced by a much more modern and simple operation based on the use of an automated milking system. The solution of choice was the Monobox from GEA, a German engineering multinational company, which is a global reference in providing innovative solutions for farms around the globe.
Godallatte’s new era was created by the farm change of command. The farmer Sérgio Goin passed on to the hands of his 27 year-old son, Douglas Goin, the mission to manage the farm. The successor, however, accepted this challenge with the commitment to modernize the farm's milk production system. "The automation was decisive for this new phase of the business," says the young farmer.
Thanks to the adoption of the robot and to the employees’ attention focus change, Douglas’ routine has been very different from the one his father had for decades. In short, much of the farm's management work began to be done online, from his home, located eight miles away from the farm.
"With Monobox, my daily routine has improved a lot because I can manage the milking sessions from any location. All I need is an internet connection to access the farm computer. With this change, much of the complex manual labour has been replaced by more strategic tasks," explains Douglas.
In addition to a more relaxed routine, the automated milking has also enabled the farmer to reconcile the farm management with other professional activities, which would be impossible with the old production system. Douglas, who holds a degree in veterinary medicine, also doubles as a nutritionist at an animal food industry, an occupation he has no intention of giving up.
In six months of operation, Monobox has already helped Godallatte to increase its productivity and, consequently, its income. Currently, the herd is providing an average of 2.7 milking sessions a day. The daily production per cow also increased: before automation, they collected about 29 liters per cow. Now the average is 32 liters, with a projection of 45 liters per cow in the next 5 months. "The improvement in production and quality provided by automated milking has been a great motivation for us to invest in this system. My goal, within three or four years from now, is to set up a milk processing plant," says Douglas.
Another breakthrough achieved by the farm was the optimization of the workforce, since the two employees who worked exclusively in the milking process were reassigned to other tasks. "The conventional milking system requires a repetitive process of cow management, often outside conventional hours, with many challenges and risks," says GEA Product Manager Evandro Schilling. "With automation, it doesn’t happen anymore."
The provision of various types of data that generate knowledge for the farmer is another great benefit provided by Monobox. "With more data in hand, it's easier to manage the farm and make decisions," adds Douglas. "Previously, for example, milk measurement was manual and done once a month. Now we have this information daily. It has also improved heat detection with the introduction of GEA's CowScout electronic system, which is helping us to inseminate more cows and select the best animals to be kept in the herd."
According to the young farmer, the learning process to operate GEA's automated milking was very easy, thanks to the support provided by the company; and the adaptation of the animals occurred in a very smooth way. "In three weeks, the cows were already familiar with the new system," says Douglas. "The assistance provided by GEA throughout the development of this project was very consistent and fundamental to make this recent progress possible. In addition to that, the company, through its authorized dealer, always responds very quickly whenever we have any questions or needs. Such quality in service provision nicely complements all the benefits offered by Monobox."
Smart and complete solution
With Monobox, the farmer can rely on the most modern solution for the production of milk. The robot fully performs repetitive tasks that cannot be subject to failures, such as teat cup attachment, udder stimulation, cleaning and pre-dipping, drying, pre-milking, milking and post-dipping. Everything happens as part of a comfortable, fast and uniform process that takes place inside the teat cup.
"GEA performed a guided flow project for the Godallatte farm. As a result, when cows leave their resting area to search for food, they must go through smart gates that direct them to milking or feeding," explains Schilling. "The smart gate is programmed to identify the cows that are ready to be milked and all this activity can be monitored by the farmer remotely," concludes the manager of GEA.