Development of automatic milking in Germany

Heinz Bernhardt, Martin Höhendinger, Anja Gräff, Omar Hijazi, Manfred Höld, Matthias Reger, Jörn Stumpenhausen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Milk production is the most important branch of German agriculture and the German dairy industry is the largest sector within the German food industry. For about a quarter of agricultural farms in Germany, milk production is the main source of income. The productive and economic quality of the dairy cattle farm depends crucially on the efficient, cost-optimized and quality-oriented milking technique. In the last 20 years, automatic milking has become increasingly popular among dairy cattle farms in Germany. For a long time, the main target group was medium-sized family farms with 60 to 180 cows. Meanwhile, there is also appropriate technology for large farms that can milk more than 4000 cows. The study will show which technique of automatic milking is suitable for which type of farm and its impact on the organization and management of the farms. Additionally, the effect on the farm manager, herd manager and milker but also on their families will be presented. Also, the effect on the cows and the changes in the cow's human relationship is analysed. An overview of the survey shows that family farms between 60 and 180 cows are best at dealing with single box systems and free milking. Large companies with external workers often use automatic milking carts with fixed milking times, as this has organizational advantages in group management. In medium-sized farms between 180 and 500 dairy cows, solutions with several milking robots in individual boxes as well as automatic group milking systems can be found. Both systems have their organizational advantages and disadvantages. In summary, automatic milking has meanwhile reached all company sizes and types. Automatic milking not only has an effect on milking during operation. It is usually the beginning of a further automation of the operation. Due to the lack of contact between man and cow during milking, more information about the cow is transmitted via sensors.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2019
Event2019 ASABE Annual International Meeting - Boston, United States
Duration: 7 Jul 201910 Jul 2019


Conference2019 ASABE Annual International Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Automatic milking
  • Dairy farm management
  • Milking parlors


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