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University of Melbourne opens new robotic dairy at Dookie campus

FBR Staff Writer Published 27 May 2014

The University of Melbourne, together with Regional Development Victoria, has opened a new upgraded Dookie Robotic Dairy facility.

Dookie dairy

The new facility features robotic milking capabilites, milking shed as well as feeding systems with a capacity to accommodate 180 cows.

A part of a $5m investment in Dookie's farm, the upgrades included the installation of solar panels on the new shed to produce 30kw of electricity - nearly half the three-stall robot's needs.

The facility also comprises solar hot water units which take care of vat cleaning and wash-down flowing from a 250,000-L rainwater tank. In addition, water from the dairy flows into a closed loop of settling ponds, facilitating maximum recycling.

As part of the upgrades, the 43ha irrigated pastures have been automated with solar-powered moisture probes to produce optimum growth using minimum amount of water.

Dookie campus farms manager Bill O'Connor said information from the central computer mean paddocks can be tailored to an individual cow's needs.

"There is a whole range of production information that we can now make use of," O'Connor said.

Veterinary Science Dean of Faculty Ken Hinchcliff said the university was transforming its facilities to pursue its future goals for globally significant research and teaching into sustainable agricultural production.

"In order to pursue research projects that meet the needs of the future dairy industry, a significant investment has been made in the improvement of dairy operations, including the construction of a new dairy with leading-edge milking infrastructure," Hinchcliff added.

Image: A cow in Dookie robotic dairy. Photo: courtesy of The University of Melbourne.