Video: Fullwood upgrades milking robot, with ‘Texas-style’ gate
Milking equipment manufacturer, Fullwood Ltd, has launched a revised version of its M²erlin automated milking system (robot).
The new M²erlin system features a redesigned milking crate including ‘Texas-style’ entry gates, plus a range of optional cow management equipment packs, according to the UK-based company.
The manufacturer notes that the M²erlin retains Fullwood’s ‘k-flow’ entry and exit design, allowing cows to enter or exit the milking crate via straight ahead or side gates.
However, while the original M²erlin used a side-hinged gate for straight ahead entry, the new model uses a Texas-style gate. This not only allows faster cow loading, but also saves space thanks to a smaller opening radius, Fullwood claims.
Further space savings are made due to the new machine’s smaller footprint; the M²erlin’s milking crate maintains its predecessor’s internal dimensions (allowing it to accommodate all breeds and sizes of dairy cows), but the new model has an overall footprint which is claimed to be 18.5cm shorter than the outgoing machine.
John Baines, Fullwood Technical Director, notes: “This makes the new M²erlin easier to install in confined spaces, as such making it ideally suited for use in traditional farm buildings as well as within purpose-built milking sheds.
“The new crate also features redesigned cabinets with stronger side-opening doors instead of the previous model’s ‘up and over’ design.
“This improves access for servicing and maintenance duties,” Baines says.
The existing model’s all-electric, silent-running milking arm remains unchanged, though it is now complemented by a modified jetter plate.
“By mounting the cluster washing system on a spring-mounted plate, we can now achieve a tighter seal between the cups and the jetters,” Baines adds.
This ensures greater cleaning effectiveness and further safeguards milk hygiene and integrity.
As standard, the base-model M²erlin is kitted out with a side entry gate, a single exit gate (side or straight-ahead exit), a single feed dispenser and an ear tag or neck collar based cow identification system.
It is also fitted as standard with Fullwood’s Herd Management Interface (HMI) which enables farmers and herd managers to access key cow data and milk production records from a full-colour, touchscreen display mounted on the robot’s housing.
Baines notes: “By making data such as milk flow rate and milk yield results easily accessible and without the need to consult a separate computer screen, operators can keep a closer eye on each cow’s performance and investigate any potential management concerns as she is being milked.”
Beyond the base model’s standard specification, the new ‘Texas-style’ entry gate is available as an option, as are a series of upgrade packs, including: a Traffic Control Pack; a Fertility Pack; a Health Pack; and a Management Pack.
These ‘Packs’ range from segregation gates to pedometer-based heat detection systems and in-line milk analysers among other extras.