Automatic Milking Systems

Automatic milking systems (AMS) have been developed for dairy farms to reduce the human labour required for milk harvesting.

In Australia, the challenge is to incorporate automatic milking into pasture-based production systems while maintaining optimal grazing management and production targets.

AMS benefits

In this video, Max Roberts talks about AMS and the benefits they offer dairy farmers and the industry:

Much of the Australian dairy industry is pasture-based. Any AMS must rely on voluntary movement of cows to and from the paddocks and be able to handle large herds. Research is examining the constraints for successful implementation of AMS into the Australian dairy industry.

Single box AMS units

AMS have been used commercially overseas for many years. In Europe, over half of new milking machine installations involve automation. These AMS are single box units with the capacity to milk around 55 to 70 cows each. It is common for farms to use between two and five AMS units, depending on herd size.

Only a small number of dairy farmers in Australia have implemented AMS single box units on their dairy farms.

Dairy farmer experience

The FutureDairy website has more information about farmer experience with AMS.

AMS research program

Traditional AMS are single boxes developed for the European market, which has small herds, often in fully housed systems. The Future Dairy project, partly funded by Dairy Australia, has proven that single boxes can operate effectively under Australia’s pasture-based systems, achieving both high pasture utilisation and acceptable AMS unit utilisation.

More information

Management Guidelines for pasture-based AMS farms (PDF, 2.9MB)

Produced by the FutureDairy project, this document is essential reading for anyone seriously contemplating the installation of an AMS.

Learnings around Automatic Milking System adoption on-farm (PDF, 832KB)

Dr Kendra Kerrisk and Bevan Ravenhill's presentation for the 2010 Australian Dairy Conference.

AMS resources

There are a number of resources available to help dairy farmers learn more about AMS.

AMS ‘Milking Edge’ Learning Modules

A series of eight Automatic Milking System learning modules hosted on Dairy Australia’s Enlight online learning system. Developed jointly by Dairy Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and DeLaval, the modules are individually themed and draw on the learnings captured in a decade-long research and development project as well as over 40 commercial AMS farms in Australia.

Precision dairy technology: Automatic milking systems (PDF, 1.7MB)

This fact sheet describes how AMS works and how dairy farmers implement this type of technology. Contact details of the major suppliers, together with approximate cost and other relevant information is included.

Automatic milking systems FAQ (PDF, 2.4MB)

Frequently asked questions about AMS are answered by Dr Nicolas Lyons, Development Officer Automatic Milking Systems, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI).

Future Dairy website: Automatic milking systems publications

Further information sheets on AMS have been prepared by the FutureDairy team at the University of Sydney and are available at the above link.

Future Dairy website: Case studies

The FutureDairy team have also conducted a number of case studies demonstrating the use of AMS.

DairyNZ: Robotic milking

A wide range of information about AMS and considerations in New Zealand.

AMS pasture management video

Dr Nicolas Lyons from NSW DPI presents a video of pasture management in a AMS pasture-based system in Tasmania.

Milking Edge Project

Milking Edge is a training and extension project for automatic milking in Australia.

The Australian dairy industry is committed to supporting investment and successful operation of AMS. ‘Milking Edge’ is a three-year joint initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dairy Australia and DeLaval, to support the industry to invest and operate AMS successfully.

Overview of the project

Milking Edge is built on a decade of successful research and development led by FutureDairy, as well as the experience of almost 50 commercial farms around Australia who have decided to invest in the technology. The project will develop a training and extension program for automatic milking that will:

  • Support industry to consider, invest (decision making) and operate (implement and transition to) automatic milking successfully; and
  • Minimise risk and maximise likelihood of successful transition to automatic milking

This video explains more about Milking Edge.

Project team

The project team is led by Dr Nicolas Lyons, Development Officer for Dairy with NSW DPI. Dr Lyons has an extensive knowledge around farming systems, technology and automation. Upon finishing his PhD with FutureDairy at the University of Sydney, he has spent the last few years actively engaging and communicating with farmers, service providers and industry around technology adoption and optimisation of AMS.

Dr Lyons will be working together with Jessica Maloney, Project Officer Dairy – Robotic Milking at NSW DPI. She holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Charles Sturt University and has more than 10 years in the dairy industry with a strong understanding of the industry, its stakeholders, issues and opportunities.

Additionally, Juan Gargiulo, a postgraduate student based at University of Sydney who is supported by NSW DPI and the Dairy Research Foundation, will also be collaborating and involved with the project. He holds a B. Ag. Science and a postgraduate degree in dairy science from universities in Argentina, and is passionate about the dairy industry, with a strong understanding of dairy systems, milk quality and farm performance.

General project outcomes

The project team in collaboration with key stakeholders will generate:

  • Tools, resources and networks detailing the challenges and opportunities of automatic milking and supporting farmers in assessing the suitability of AMS
  • A tool that will support farmers to consider and optimise AMS in terms of management (farm management options), performance (physical) and economics (financial)
  • Better industry knowledge on AMS through training for farmers, farm staff and service providers wishing to expand their knowledge and understanding about AMS and its different components
  • Strong industry engagement through support for activities such as discussion groups, field days and conferences
  • Dedicated communication presence through social media, webpages, e-newsletters and media articles
  • A modern online community of practice to collaborate and communicate on all things related to automatic milking

Get involved

Anyone interested in learning more about AMS can contact their regional team or refer them to Dairy Australia.

The NSW DPI Dairy Facebook Page and the NSW DPI Dairy AMS newsletter provides the latest news and updates about precision dairy farming.

Explore the Extension AUS Online AMS Community which brings together passionate and knowledgeable industry experts such as farmers, advisors, service providers and researchers from all around the world to collaborate on all aspects related to AMS. Relevant articles, a calendar of events and an 'Ask the experts' section are available on the website.


Nicolas Lyons, Project Leader, NSW DPI

Tel: 0401 650 073

John Penry, Manager - Technical and Innovation, Dairy Australia

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