Monday, October 1, 2012

After traveling the east and midwest for producer demonstrations... Astrea 20.20 demo's are featured in the New Holland Trade Center at World Dairy Expo

MADISON, Wis. -- One year after unveiling the Galaxy Astrea 20.20 automatic milking system (AMS) from the Netherlands, AMS-Galaxy-USA will return here for the 2012 World Dairy Expo October 2-6 with a fully operational demonstration robot in tow. The traveling demonstration unit – complete with plastic udders -- has already introduced this cow friendly and affordable approach to robotic milking to hundreds of dairy producers from New York to Minnesota this past summer.

In July, AMS-Galaxy-USA president Dennis Milhoan put the demonstration robot on a trailer and set to give dairy farmers the opportunity to see it in action. The first stop was a dealership in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania; then on to demonstrations at eight dealerships in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan before returning east for New York’s Empire Farm Days and Pennsylvania’s Ag Progress Days in August.

Next stop: The AMS-Galaxy-USA booth at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Robotic milking is a highlight at any farm show, and spectators at Empire Farm Days, for example, said they were surprised by the efficiency and affordability of this "different approach to automatic milking."

"The demonstration was an eye-opener," observed one Empire Farm Days visitor. "It provides the animals with consistency to help reduce mastitis and allows the cow to come in when she needs to. Instead of milking every 12 hours, like at my farm, a cow can be milked three or four times a day in this system, allowing her to stay comfortable and keep mastitis flare-ups to a minimum."

A cow’s freedom to milk more frequently tends to increase production and decrease mastitis incidence, according to national studies.

Observers noticed the Galaxy Astrea 20.20 is set up similar to a side gate parlor. Instead of being one unit that stays under the cow during milking, it has a swing arm to handle the milking of two cows alternately.

The similarity to a parlor stops there. The labor of moving and milking cows is eliminated by the fully automated teat cleaning, milking, grain feeding, screening and separation of waste milk, and the exiting of cows from the milking area.

World Dairy Expo visitors will see the unique prepping system, where each teat is cleaned with an iodine spray, rinsed with water, blown dry and stripped prior to teat-cup attachment. A recommended time interval between cleaning and attachment works with the natural physiology of the cow to foster optimal oxytocin release. And a square teat liner creates four pressure points to maximize fast, gentle, complete milk harvest.

The robotic arm attaches each of the four teat-cups individually and the system is programmed to recognize when an animal has a slower quarter, allowing each of the other teat-cups to detach automatically on its own while the slow quarter finishes. The robotic arm is not needed during detachment as the teat-cups simply retract to their cup-holders, where they are sterilized and stored between cows.

Visitors will see the two-box setup with one milking box placed on each side of the robotic arm. In each box, a single cow milks in a time frame of approximately seven to eight minutes, and because the robotic arm does not remain under the cow during the milking, it can be prepping and attaching one cow while the other is milking, and so forth.

The vision technology is integrated with a tagging system whereby the robot uses a camera and laser to "learn" each cow’s udder and teat placement and stores the information.

Cows receive some grain in the milking box. Automatic identification lets the system know whether it’s time for an entering cow to be milked. If not, she is ushered to the exit and no grain drops into the bowl.

Dairy farmers were keen to know what happens if a cow kicks the machine? How durable is it? Interestingly, this robot is also used commercially in factories for welding and other heavy-duty, 24/7 operations. In fact, milking can be considered light duty, using the robotic arm at just 30% of its actual capacity, and thereby increasing its longevity, according to Milhoan.

Since the Galaxy Astrea 20.20 uses one robotic arm to serve up to 120 cows. A two-box system is ideal. A one-box system is also possible for a smaller sized herd, but maximum cost efficiencies are gained in a two-box system to harvest more milk per robot investment.

Computer integration and cell phone notifications keep farm managers in touch with the performance of the system and the cows. Meanwhile, they can have full control if needed with manual over-ride options allowing timing adjustments to calm a learning cow or to easily milk her manually.

Dairymen who watched previous demonstrations said they liked the efficiencies. Also the robotic swing-arm has a familiar look and feel to operating a milking parlor. Producers who milk in tie-stall barns said they appreciated the individualized approach to prepping and milking.

Visit Booth TC 809-836 in the New Holland Trade Center of the 2012 World Dairy Expo to see this robot in action and learn more at



This fully operational Galaxy Astrea 20.20 demonstration robot was on display at robotic milking demonstrations in the Midwest in July and in the East at various farm shows and farm days in August will be a featured attraction at Booth TC 809-836 in the New Holland Trade Center area of the 2012 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin October 2-6.


Dealerships across the Midwest teamed up with AMS-Galaxy-USA to provide robotic milker demonstrations attended by hundreds of dairy producers at eight locations this past summer. The demonstration robot will return to Wisconsin the first week in October for demonstrations in the New Holland Trade Center area of the World Dairy Expo.


This close up of the robotic arm depicts the attachment of individual teat-cups. The Galaxy Astrea 20.20 is designed to serve up to 120 cows in two milking boxes by prepping teats and attaching teat-cups alternately. The arm does not stay under the cow during the milking, and the teat-cups detach automatically without the assistance of the robotic arm.


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