Lely has shown a zero grazing concept that will bring grass from the field directly to the feed trough/passage or feed kitchen autonomously.
Called the Exos, the new system will complement the manufacturer’s existing range of dairy robots including Vector feeding systems, Juno feed pusher and Astronaut milking machines.
Korstiaan Blokland, Lely’s head of innovations, says; “The Exos system is based on an electric vehicle that autonomously mows, loads and dispenses grass in the barns, providing fresh grass frequently, day or night. This improves the taste and intake of fresh grass.
“Manually feeding cows in the barn with fresh grass is based on the same principle, but the options are limited and can be labour-intensive. This system operates 24 hours a day, so it is not limited by manpower or time.”
He adds; “Good roughage has always been important for the health and milk yields of cows. The nutritional value of fresh grass is 10 to 20 per cent higher than that of silage grass, because there are no significant losses during harvesting, conservation and feeding.”
The manufacturer says a low tare weight and floatation tyres allows the Exos a wide working window, enabling it to collect grass early in the growing season, through to the end.
In addition, the robot can dose liquid fertiliser onto the freshly cut grass, encouraging quicker regrowth. The company says this method will work well on farm’s already using its Sphere ammonia capturing system.
From its experience on test farms, Lely says dairy farms can meet half of their roughage requirements with fresh grass during the growing season, from early spring to late autumn.
The company says; “The savings can reach more than 1.8 pence (two cents) per litre of milk as a result of less silage and its associated costs being included in the diet.”
First prototypes are already operational on test farms, says the manufacturer, with the aim of gathering information about the autonomous harvesting of fresh grass. It adds in the coming years, the system will be further developed for commercial use.