BRITISH COLUMBIA TO HOUSE LARGEST ROBOTIC MILKING RESEARCH FACILITY IN NORTH AMERICA
he University of British Columbia (UBC) Dairy Education and Research Centre will become the largest robotic milking research facility in North America with the addition of six GEA DairyRobot R9500 box robots. The partnership between GEA and UBC will open research opportunities, attract more students and provide new educational experiences. “We’re excited to partner with UBC as they set a new bar for research dedicated to robotic milking that will further advance the entire dairy industry,” says Stuart Marshall, GEA automated milk system’s business development manager. “Robots provide an immense amount of data, and we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding and using it in daily cow management.” The Dairy Education and Research Centre is a world leader in dairy cattle welfare, behaviour, reproduction and nutrient recovery research, attracting students from around the world.
A PROJECT YEARS IN THE MAKING The idea of transitioning to robotic milking came about three years ago when the university was looking to achieve phosphorus sustainability, address labour challenges and upgrade its 20-year-old parlour. UBC worked with GEA
PICTURED ARE Nelson Dinn, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) business operations manager, and Ronaldo Cerri, director, associate professor in dairy cattle reproduction at the UBC Dairy Education and Research Centre.
and its local GEA dealer, Pacific Dairy Centre, to plan a layout that met its research needs with a goal to begin milking in winter 2021. “Becoming a research farm milking 100 per cent of our herd with robots is significant, as it is representative of dairy farms adapting to robotics worldwide,” says Nelson Dinn, UBC’s business operations manager. “We want to position the UBC dairy centre as a technology hub at the
forefront of dairy cattle research globally.” The retrofit project will have a flexible design incorporating a total of six GEA robots in two existing research barns, housing about 250 lactating cows, along with one training robot. The six-row main barn is set up in quadrants, making it easy to incorporate a robot in each pen. UBC will add two more robots in its second barn—a four-row barn with drive-through feeding and individual feeding boxes for measuring intakes on one side. “Experimental design was a priority in our planning,” says Ronaldo Cerri, UBC’s director and associate professor in dairy cattle reproduction. “As a research facility, having multiple individual robot pens for replication is important to strengthen our research projects.”
RESEARCH FOR THE REAL WORLD
A 3D RENDERING of the University of British Columbia’s Dairy Education and Research Centre highlights where the robots will be placed in the existing research barns. 10
JULY 2021 | MILKPRODUCER
“By investing in robotic milking, one of our goals is to maintain current total milk output by increasing milk production per cow while reducing overall herd size,” Dinn says. “This means we can lower water use over time, be more efficient with manure management and explore nutrient extraction.” Data integration and user safety were among the top features for choosing the GEA DairyRobot. “With the latest technology, we’ll be able to help fill in data gaps we see today and provide W W W.MILK PRODUCER.CA