“If you’re going to do something, do it right” is what Koen Veldkamp, Managing Director of Agrar GmbH Cottbus West promised himself when he developed his vision of a barn for 800 dairy cows located in Krieschow, Germany. That’s why when he started planning, he got in touch with sales at GEA and his local GEA dealership center.
The common goal was to find a solution that improves animal welfare, increases efficiency and delivers high milk quality in a resource-conserving operation in order to achieve long-term sustainability. One of the most exciting and exemplary aspects of the project was the use of time-saving innovative construction methods to commission GEA's intelligent milking robot technology in record time in what is currently the largest GEA automated milking facility in Europe.
Animal welfare comes first
Right from the start, Veldkamp pursued a concept that promises the cows maximum comfort in warm summer months and cold winters: The buildings are generously laid out, with wide walkways and animal-friendly lying areas. Daylight and fresh air are continuously supplied through curtains and sectional gates with large light openings. This creates the best conditions for dairy cows and a pleasant climate in the barn all year round. In addition, optimal temperatures in the working area and protection of the milk-carrying parts are ensured by underfloor heating powered by the heat recovery system of the dairy farm's own biogas plant.
Minimizing the use of water and energy and environmentally sound management
Nowadays, anyone planning a big facility for up to 800 cows not only has to calculate operating costs, but must also take environmental aspects into account. That’s why Koen Veldkamp decided on the GEA DairyRobot R9500. Three milking boxes are connected to each of the six installed supply units, with 16 boxes currently in operation; further boxes can easily be added if required. This means less equipment, lower water and power consumption, fewer maintenance processes and finally a lower investment than other milking box systems. In addition, it also needs less personnel and time input because a system of this size can be operated by only two people.
Promoting cow health, ensuring milk quality
The well-being of the cows has a crucial influence on their health and ultimately determines milk quality. All the better that GEA’s DairyRobot R9500 can operate during the relaxed processes in the barn without any pre- and post-selection: “With the help of herd management, cows can roam freely and enjoy consistent, self-determined processes, especially in the period immediately after calving. The system automatically redirects the calf milk so that neither workers nor animals have to adapt their routines,” explains Koen Veldkamp. At the same time, he points to the significantly dropped cell and germ counts after the switch from conventional milking in the carousel to the milking robot, by partly more than 50%.
Also the milk yield shows a positive trend. With good reason because the In-Liner Everything principle offers perfect milking hygiene by allowing the entire milking routine from attaching, cleaning, pre-dipping and stimulating to removal and dipping to take place in the protected environment of the teat cup. With GEA’s DairyRobot R9500, the dairy farm not only supports udder health, but also creates the best conditions for raising milk performance and quality to a higher level.
Ready for use: an international showpiece
GEA supports dairy farmers worldwide. One of its strengths is the ability to implement the individual ideas of dairy farmers with innovative concepts. The idea of saving time and costs by prefabricating the components and the logistical precision quickly won over the client and the entire team. Finally, the ready-to-use automated milking system was commissioned with the local GEA dealership center Duräumat-Agrotec Agrartechnik GmbH. A special feature is the use of prefabricated floor elements. The concrete elements are provided with precisely fitting connectors and joints and can be installed in a very short time. And because the sixteen GEA DairyRobot R9500s, each with their six central supply units, were also delivered from Bönen right on time, the building project was carried out in just six months of pure construction time. In the end, not only was GEA’s currently largest automated milking facility in Europe put into operation, but also a prime example of a customer-specific milking system.
Positive outcome for high milk quality
For the dairy farm, the good collaboration between GEA Germany and the regional GEA dealership center on site pays off on a daily basis. The innovative solution consisting of leading robotic milking technology, time-saving installation and the excellent service of the GEA dealership center Duräumat-Agrotec Agrartechnik GmbH makes it possible to operate sustainably in the long-term with healthy, vital cows. The result is significantly increased efficiency with half the work input as well as minimized water and energy use and maximum milk performance at a high quality level. Koen Veldkamp, who invests the time gained in managing his operation, sums it up this way: “We are absolutely satisfied!”