Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Congratulations to Unverfehrt Farm Supply, Inc., based in Centralia, Illinois. They sold the second AMS-Galaxy-USA Astrea 20.20 installation in the U.S. as part of a totally automated dairy modernization project in southern Illinois. The new building construction began recently on March 14, 2013.

The Unverfehrt project will replace the customer farm’s current milking parlor and freestall barn with a new robotic milking barn featuring the two-box / one-arm automatic milking efficiency of the AMS-Galaxy-USA Astrea 20.20.

The project also includes automatic calf feeding via the Urban Calf Feeding System, which is a closed milk loop from the machine to the drink station and has a fully automated washing system. The Illinois dairy project will also be the first in North America to incorporate the Trioliet Automatic Feeding Technology for mixing and feeding the milking cows their silage, roughage and commodities as a TMR in the barn.

"The freestall barn and manure system were outdated on this farm, so everything will be setup in the new project for automatic flush," Kevin Unverfehrt explains. "The customer currently milks 90 to 100 cows in a parlor with a freestall barn and when the project is complete, they will be milking 120 cows in a fully automated robotic milking barn. They will be able to access everything – from feeding to milking to manure flush – right from their home computer, iPad, or iPhone."

Unverfehrt notes that cameras will be installed throughout the complex and that all the building features, such as the sidewall curtains, flush valves, and lighting will be fully computerized.

The Netherlands-based Trioliet feeding technology utilizes the series of bunkers whereby the automated mixer unit travels to the bunkers, picks up the feed, mixes the TMR, and delivers the feed to the cows in the robotic milking barn.

"It will also travel 35 feet away to feed the heifers and dry cows," Unverfehrt relates. "It’s a dogmatically routine feeding process. The producer programs how often to feed, or he can set the feeding frequency to be dependent upon the season and heat index."

Of course, the feature of this robotic milking barn is the Galaxy Astrea 20.20, which utilizes one industrial robotic arm to serve two milking boxes.

"Our customer really liked the idea of one arm prepping and attaching milkers in two stalls," says Unverfehrt . "The initial costs are a little less, and the maintenance and operation costs are much lower. The Galaxy Astrea uses the Motoman robotic arm, which has been used time-tested in tough manufacturing environments for many years. So the proven reliability is also very attractive.

The biggest thing with robotic technology is, "the farmer does not have to be in the barn at 3 in the morning or 8 at night," he adds. "Farmers want to see their kids grow up and in the crop season they have field work. Robotic milking gives the farmer the flexibility to set his own schedule. He still has to be out there working with the animals and managing the herd, but he doesn’t have to be there at a set 4 a.m. or 4 p.m. milking time. If he is in the field, he can finish that work, and check on his cows without having to stop the fieldwork to go to the barn and milk.

"... And he can make that little league baseball game."

Unverfehrt Farm Supply recently had a customer appreciation open house at their Centralia, Illinois location where they serve southern Illinois dairy, livestock and grain farmers and handle everything from steel buildings and grain storage to feeding, manure handling and milking equipment. Dennis Milhoan, AMS-Galaxy-USA president, brought the Galaxy Astrea 20.20 two-box milking demonstration unit to the Unverfehrt open house, where it was a big attraction.

"We had 820 people attend our March 7 customer appreciation open house," said Unverfehrt. "Of course, they weren’t all dairy farmers, but there sure was very good interest in the AMS-Galaxy-USA Astrea 20.20."

The fully automated dairy project featuring the AMS-Galaxy-USA Astrea 20.20 in southern Illinois is targeted for completion by August – weather permitting.

Kevin Unverfehrt of Unverfehrt Farm Supply can be reached at keunverfehrt@unverfehrtinc.com. For more information about  AMS-Galaxy-USA, and to find a Galaxy robotic milking and Urban calf feeding system dealer near you, contact dennism@amsgalaxyusa.com or call 800.422.4587.


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