Investing in milking robots and biogas plant - twin prospects for the future
In Fiesco, Cremona, in the middle of the Italian Food Valley, Paolo Filippini and his twin daughters Vittoria and Mariasole run the Giulieta farm. Paolo Filippini’s grandfather started with three milking cows many years ago, and until four months ago they milked 80-100 cows in a 6+6 Herringbone parlour. Today they milk 300 cows in four automatic milking robots, which were installed in June.
The reason for choosing to work with robots is partly because the father, Paolo, has always appreciated new technology, but also because he finds it difficult to find milkers that have the right experience and devotion to the task of milking cows. This way he has more time to be with the cows in the barn, making sure that they are OK.
Paolo’s daughter, Vittoria Filippini, 23, who is studying to be a veterinarian like her father, and who is responsible for the milking, was also very involved in the choice of milking system. She was very clear about wanting an automatic milking system on the farm. Vittoria’s twin sister Mariasole who is studying economy, takes care of the farm’s administration. Although she enjoys life on the farm, where both sisters have a horse, she is not sure whether she wants to continue working on the farm when she finishes her studies.
“I love it here on the farm, I was born here, and I hate the idea of an office job”, says Vittoria with a smile as she nudges their big black long-haired dog on the paw to tease him.
The cows’ well-being is important on the Giulieta farm. Paolo says that he initially didn’t understand how important the cows’comfort is, but he has now realised that providing enough space, feed and water for his cows make a huge difference in health, milk yield and reproduction. The barn is equipped with plenty of water troughs, ventilators, cow brushes and cow mats. At the end of summer they usually have an increase in lameness, due to the heat and the high energy feed, and they use footbaths to try and fight the problem.
Paolo and his daughters work a lot with feeding and reproduction to improve results. They use sexed semen, with an outcome of 90% heifers. The milk price is quite high right now, but so too are the costs, consequently every improvement matters. Energy costs are high in Italy, so together with two other farmers Paolo has started a bio gas plant where they in addition to the manure from the farm use waste from the nearby city and carton packages unsuitable for recycling in the biogas production. The plant produces 3000kW per hour when working on full speed. They use 68 000 tonnes of manure per year, and the dry mass left from the bio gas process is used as fertilizers on the fields. The manure is transported to the plant in 12 kilometer of underground pipes, reducing the farm’s carbon footprint and saving fuel costs.
At the Giulieta farm the yearly average production per cow is 10 500 kg. Somatic cell count is between 200 000 - 250 000 and the milk has 3.90-4.0% fat and 3.50-3.70 % protein.
Paolo Filippini’s brother is currently milking 300 cows on a neighboring farm, and has now also been inspired to change to robotic milking.
- Owner: Paolo Filippini, with daugthers Vittoria and Mariasole
- Breed: Holsteins
- Milking system: 4 DeLaval VMS, in semi-free cow traffic
- Milkings per day, average: 2.5
- Milk is stored in a 9 000 liter cooling tank and is delivered once a day