Science

“The two straw robots save us time and straw”

Since June 2021, Stéphane Danion, installed only at SCEA in Paimpont in Ille-et-Vilaine, has delegated to two Wasserbauer Flypit robots the padding of his 4,250 m2 stall that houses thatch areas and cubicles. This team is the culmination of this farmer’s approach to automation, leading a herd of 200 dairy cows (220 VL long-term), which seeks to minimize labor-intensive tasks. “My goal is to offer good working conditions to my three employees, especially with adequate hours. They do not attack, for example, until 7:30 am to 8 am in the morning. Robotization also makes it possible to limit availability on weekends. In fact, only one of us is on the farm from Friday night to Monday morning. As there are four of us, this allows us to be free three out of every four weekends. To achieve this level of comfort, Stéphane Danion first installed an automatic milk dispenser in 2008, then acquired two milking robots in 2012, completed this year by a third to support herd expansion (from 140 to 180 VL handles of it). It was also outfitted with a feeding robot in 2017.

45 minutes saved per day

Before purchasing the two Wasserbauer machines for just under € 200,000, the breeder used an old straw blower, which cost him € 5,000 over 10 years (including purchase). This machine was used every day to shred the 900 m2 of sleeping areas for the heifers. It was also used to place a heap of straw every two weeks in front of the rows of dairy cow stables, which was then spread by hand, every day, in small quantities. These operations mobilized one person daily for more than an hour. “Thanks to the Flypit robots, we save three-quarters of an hour a day. The time we spend on the tractor is now spent monitoring the herd. And contrary to what some people think, automation brings us closer to animals, ”explains Stéphane Danion. Although the exercise tracks are cleaned with a chain scraper, there is still a daily manual task: the plane slam to get the excrement out of the cubicles. “It is not easy with a small self-propelled machine going through the alleys in the presence of cows. “

720 meters of rails attached to the frame

The robotic straws, which circulate suspended from a rail, operate in the same building that houses all the cattle, from 8-day-old calves to dairy cows. They run on batteries and recharge during their inactivity phases. Each machine has its own dedicated path and there is no switch. The two rails are, in fact, independent and in one piece (welded joints). Its attachment to the frame by means of chains guarantees a certain flexibility and eliminates expansion phenomena. The first wagon, fitted with two spreading discs, moves over the padded areas of the heifers, arranged in a row in the 110-meter-long building. Its rail is 220 meters long, because it forms a large U, to cover the entire surface of the 8-meter deep cabins. In fact, the projection width is limited and the robot must make two parallel passes. The second automaton is identical to the first in terms of capacity (2000 liters), but does not have spreader trays. It travels on a 500 meter lane forming several cords, in order to pad the 204 stables, the calves and the farrowing preparation area.

Big savings on straw

Flypit robots work in the morning and at night, making four trips at a time to get everywhere. In its box that carries 35 to 40 kg of straw, each one applies about 300 kg per day. «Comme la paille hachée par the module of chargement present a larger capacity of absorption of just that celle des brins longs, nous avons diminué d’un tiers la quantité apportée sur les air paillées des génisses, soit une economy of 200 kg par day. The dose for the cubicles was kept at one kilo per day per day. »The two straw wagons are fed in the same place by a conveyor equipped with a dust extractor. The straw is pre-chopped by a module installed in height, which stores up to six round bales, necessarily fed by a telescopic loader, every two or three days. The cut length is defined at the time of purchase of the equipment and, therefore, is the same for all animals.

Precise control of the quantities of straw spread

Wasserbauer Flypit straw blowers find their way along their route based on the distance traveled on the rail from the recharge area. The different areas to be shredded (cubicles, cabins, sleeping areas, etc.) are registered at start-up and, consequently, the machine stops spreading automatically as soon as it passes through a corridor or alley. Although a touch screen is installed in each car, the system can be controlled remotely from a smartphone or computer, as long as an Internet connection is available. The breeder uses the web interface to modify the quantities brought to each zone by adjusting the advance speed of the robot, as well as the speed of its lower mat. You also have the ability to temporarily stop the padding of certain unused cubicles or cubicles.

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