GB2325141A - Automatic milking system - Google Patents

Automatic milking system Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2325141A
GB2325141A GB9709740A GB9709740A GB2325141A GB 2325141 A GB2325141 A GB 2325141A GB 9709740 A GB9709740 A GB 9709740A GB 9709740 A GB9709740 A GB 9709740A GB 2325141 A GB2325141 A GB 2325141A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
ordinates
milking
transponder
information
teat
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
GB9709740A
Other versions
GB9709740D0 (en
Inventor
Hugh Gerald Stirling
Paul Victor Biscoe
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
SILSOE RESEARCH INST
BTG International Ltd
Original Assignee
SILSOE RESEARCH INST
BTG International Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by SILSOE RESEARCH INST, BTG International Ltd filed Critical SILSOE RESEARCH INST
Priority to GB9709740A priority Critical patent/GB2325141A/en
Publication of GB9709740D0 publication Critical patent/GB9709740D0/en
Publication of GB2325141A publication Critical patent/GB2325141A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K11/00Marking of animals
    • A01K11/006Automatic identification systems for animals, e.g. electronic devices, transponders for animals
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01JMANUFACTURE OF DAIRY PRODUCTS
    • A01J5/00Milking machines or devices
    • A01J5/017Automatic attaching or detaching of clusters
    • A01J5/0175Attaching of clusters

Abstract

An automatic milking system 10 comprises read/write transponders 16A,16B secured to each ear of a cow to be milked. The transponders are interrogated for information relating to initial milking location co-ordinates for teats of the cow. Teat-detection device 38 is moved toward the milking co-ordinates. If the milking coordinates do not correspond to the ideal milking location co-ordinates 32 derived from information from the teat-detection device, then positioning means 30 operates to move the teat cups to the ideal co-ordinates. The ideal co-ordinates are updated to the transponders via updating means 22,28.

Description

AUTOMATIC MILKING This invention relates to the automatic milking of cows and like animals.

In recent years, attempts have been made to mechanise the traditional milking techniques. Automatic milking systems with the extraction of milk by a vacuum teat cup and the release of the teat cup by mechanical means, are now well-established. However, the placing of the teat cups on the teats has proved less easy to mechanise in such systems.

One reason for this is that the positions ofthe teats will vary from cow to cow and from day to day as the cow proceeds through its lactation cycles.

The automatic milking art already includes proposals for animal husbandry regimes of on-demand milking related to feed supply with recording of udder form and other parameters to monitor the milk production and well-being of the animals. Techniques for identifying an animal presenting itself for milking and determining whether or not milking is appropriate are already known and are based on control devices such as a speciallyprogrammed small computer. Thus, the general position of the teats of any particular animal can be predicted and this information used to bring a teat cup closer to a teat for the final phase of teat cup application than by just using animal position information. If the actuators have suitable transducers it may be possible to derive information about teat position from the output of the transducers, so as to update information stored about an animal.

The drawback with these known systems is that the required information is only accessible at the particular milking parlour at which the computer or like information storage device is housed. Thus, on large farms where there may be a number of milking parlours located in different parts of the farm; there is the problem of simultaneously updating all the computers every time that a cow is milked.

It also goes without saying that when a cow is first introduced into a herd, a considerable amount of time will need to be spent on "tuning" the teat location system to that cow and in noting that animal's lactation cycle etc. so that changes in the teat positions can be predicted.

According to the first aspect of the present invention, there is provided an automatic milking system comprising a computer or like information storage device to derive a first set of milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, positioning means operative to move a teat-detection device to or towards said first set of milking location co-ordinates and, if these do not correspond to the optimum milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, to move the teat cups to said optimum milking location co-ordinates, wherein the computer or like information storage device is connected with an interrogator which, in turn, communicates with and updates an information-carrying read/write transponder secured to the animal to be milked, said information corresponding to said first set of milking coordinates.

Optionally, in deriving the first set of location co-ordinates from information in the transponder, the information storage device may predict expected changes in the optimum milking location co-ordinates in dependence on relevant information pertaining to the particular animal to be milked e.g. the time that has elapsed since the last milking of that animal, its lactation cycle etc.

Conveniently, there are two said transponders and these are adapted to be secured one to each ear of the animal to be milked so that if one transponder is inadvertently dislodged, e.g. as a result of the animal scratching itself against a post, say, the remaining transponder will still allow satisfactory operation of the system.

Preferably, the two said transponders are operable in a read/write mode without either one interfering with the operation of the other.

It is an added advantage of the system according to at least preferred embodiments of the present invention that the transponder can additionally carry information relating to the special dietary requirements of the animal, its past health etc. This information can be especially significant when the animal is sold from one farmer to another since the purchaser will in this way receive with the animal an up-to-date and comprehensive history of the animal that he has acquired.

Conveniently, practical embodiments of the invention also includes a read/write transponder for use in the automatic milking system of the present invention.

The invention may use the method and identification systems disclosed in EP 161799 A, GB 2,116,808 A or EP 467,036 A. In such identification systems a plurality of transmitters, typically transponders, are activated by a power signal (or an "interrogation signal") and then transmit reply signals, usually containing identification data, to a receiver, which typically forms part of the interrogator. The signals may be transmitted in many ways, including electromagnetic energy, e.g. radio frequency (RF), infra red (IR), and coherent light, and sound, e.g. ultrasound. For example, the transmission may be achieved by actual emission of RF energy by the transponders, or by the modulation of the reflectivity of an antenna of the transponder, resulting in varying amounts of RF energy in the interrogation signal being reflected or back-scattered from the transponder antenna.

EP4941 12 A, EP 585,132 Aand EP 598,624A disclose an interrogator/transponder system in which an interrogator broadcasts an interrogation signal to a plurality of transponders present in the interrogation field. By way of example only, one form of the identification system comprises an interrogator or reader which transmits interrogation signals at a power of approximately 15W and at a frequency of approximately 915 MHZ to a number of passive transponders. The transponders derive a power supply from energy in the interrogation signal, and modulate a portion of the energy received from the interrogator with an identification code to generate a response signal, which is transmitted back to the interrogator.

The transponders can use separate receiver and transmitter antennas, or a single antenna can be utilised for both reception and transmission. If a single antenna is used, the response signal can be generated by modulating the reflectivity of such an antenna; if separate receiver and transmitter antennae are used, then a modulator which redirects energy from the receiver antenna to the transmitter antenna is required. Alternatively, the transponders can be independently powered and may generate their own response signal.

The interrogation system described in EP 598,624 A may be easily adapted to produce interrogators and transponders according to the invention. Alternatively, the system for storage and communication of information disclosed in EP 689,151 A may be modified to function in a milking parlour. In these cases, the interrogator may be positioned in a milking stall, for example adjacent to the manger so that the transponders may be interrogated as soon as they are within range. Each transponder may be interrogated several times during the milking process, either to download information carried by the transponder or to write new information to the transponder.

The communications protocol employed by the identification system may include provisions for determining whether data transmissions, either from the transponder(s) or from the interrogator, have been corrupted and for confirming that the data has been written correctly.

In order to enable the interrogator to distinguish between the situation where a transponder is not fUnctioning correctly and that where a transponder is absent, the transponder(s) may be uniquely coded and may be called individually.

It will be appreciated that the or each transponder may be of any suitable kind e.g.

passive or active. The transponder(s) may be strictly timed e.g. by a crystal oscillator with timing derived from the powering/interrogation field, or may have local timing means, such as the tags described in EP 494112 A and EP 585,132 A. The transponder(s) may be given an identity, in addition to the data, and the protocol may include downloading the identity of the transponder(s) (or the cow).

Having historic data stored on a tag attached to an animal could be most advantageous. For example, it would not matter into which stall or pen the animal came, its previous history could be downloaded into the sensor array attached to that particular stall or pen. This could be extremely useful if there was a necessity to adjust some aspect of physical dimension or electronic sensitivity to suit individual animals. This could be the case in ketosis sensing where if an animal had previously low readings then the sensitivity range of an analysis system could be adjusted to ensure that it was appropriate for the animal entering. Similarly, the positioning of sensors to measure physical features of the body e.g. conformation, could again be adjusted on the basis of information carried on the tag.

According to another aspect, the invention includes a method of automatic milking system comprising reading a read/write transponder secured to the animal to be milked, deriving from the information read from the transponder a first set of milking location coordinates for the teat cups, moving a teat-detection device to or towards said first set of milking location co-ordinates and, if these do not correspond to the optimum milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, moving the teat cups to said optimum milking location co-ordinates in response to information from the teat-detection device, and updating the information in the transponder in response to a determination of said optimum milking location co-ordinates.

An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawing which schematically illustrates an automatic milking system 10 comprises a two-tag interrogation arrangement developed on the protocol described in the co-pending application filed on 14 May 1997 in the name of British Technology Group Limited and entitled Enhanced Identification System.

The description that follows assumes that each cow 14 carries two transponder tags 16A,16B (collectively referred to as tags 16), and that in a milking parlour stall 18, no crosstalk from tags in stalls either side is possible.

In operation of the system, the milking parlour is bathed in a powering radio frequency field from an interrogator source 20, such that no nulls or low power spots exist.

Communication with the tags in each stall is undertaken by a local, short range, narrow beam interrogator receiver or other reader/writer unit 22. The reader/writer unit in each stall uses a slightly different frequency from its neighbour, thereby enabling 'lcrosstalk" to be detected.

The tags 16 remain silent until illuminated by the unit 22, which may be triggered by a pressure sensitive device 24 located in the floor of the stall 18 in front of a manger 26.

The unit 22 issues a "who goes there?" question and the tags 16 which receive this question transmit a response after waiting for a random wait cycle. In using a randomly timed reply, it is unlikely that two tags will reply with a response at the same time and for the same duration. When the unit 22 receives a response, from the tag 16A, say, it immediately issues a "mute" instruction to the other tag 1 6B (and vice versa). The reader/writer unit extracts a clock signal from the response and downloads the information that tag 16A is carrying from the data in its response signal. Once tag 16A has finished transmitting the response signal the tag is acknowledged and the other tag (16B) is reactivated. The reader/writer now waits for a response from tag 1 6B and the data from both tags is compared.

The most recently updated data is then read by an on-site computer 28 and used to position a robotic milking arm 30 to apply the teat cups to the cow's udder (as shown at 32) and begin milking.

In the drawing, reference numeral 34 indicates a store from which the inverted teat cups 36 are removed one by one by cup-handling and teat-sensor assembly 38 carried at one end of the arm 30.

The other end of this arm is mounted on a movable platform 40, both the arm and the platform being controlled by the computer 28 to right the teat cup and to apply it to the appropriate one of the cow's teats as above described.

Further details of suitable designs for the arm 30 and the cup-handling and teatsensor assembly 38 are disclosed in EP 0452381B.

When the unit 22 needs to write to one or other of the tags 16 to update it with the latest information available, the unit issues a new "who goes there?" question which reactivates the tags to use the randomly timed tag responses. As already described above, when a clear response is received from one of the two tags 16, the unit 22 mutes the other tag and issues a write command followed by the new data to be written to the non-muted tag. At the end of the data stream, a disable command indicates to this tag that all the data has been received and that it is disabled until reactivated e.g. by leaving the powering field for sufficient time to be reset. The unit 22 also unmutes the previously muted tag and the same cycle is repeated to write to the other tag.

Those skilled in the art will immediately appreciate that any suitable interrogator transponder system which enables read/write communications to be performed during the milking process may be used and the above description should be construed merely as an example, without limitation, of one possible embodiment of the invention.

Claims (6)

1. An automatic milking system comprising a computer or like information storage device to derive a first set of milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, positioning means operative to move a teat-detection device to or towards said first set of milking location co-ordinates and, if these do not correspond to the optimum milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, to move the teat cups to said optimum milking location co-ordinates, characterised in that the computer or like information storage device is connected with an interrogator which, in turn, communicates with and updates an information-carrying read/write transponder secured to the animal to be milked, said information corresponding to said first set of milking location co-ordinates.
2. A system as claimed in Claim 1 in which the transponder is one of two such transponders, one secured to one ear and the other secured to the other ear of the animal to be milked.
3. A system as claimed in Claim 2 in which the two transponders are operable in a read/write mode without either one interfering with the operation of the other.
4. An automatic milking system substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and/or illustrated in the accompanying drawing.
5. A read/write transponder for use in an automatic milking system as claimed in any preceding claim.
6. A method of automatic milking comprising reading a read/write transponder secured to the animal to be milked, deriving from the information read from the transponder a first set of milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, moving a teatdetection device to or towards said first set of milking location co-ordinates and, if these do not correspond to the optimum milking location co-ordinates for the teat cups, moving the teat cups to said optimum milking location co-ordinates in response to information from the teat-detection device, and updating the information in the transponder in response to a determination of said optimum milking location coordinates.
GB9709740A 1997-05-14 1997-05-14 Automatic milking system Withdrawn GB2325141A (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9709740A GB2325141A (en) 1997-05-14 1997-05-14 Automatic milking system

Applications Claiming Priority (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB9709740A GB2325141A (en) 1997-05-14 1997-05-14 Automatic milking system
CA 2287328 CA2287328A1 (en) 1997-05-14 1998-05-14 Voluntary milking
PCT/GB1998/001378 WO1998051143A1 (en) 1997-05-14 1998-05-14 Voluntary milking
EP19980921608 EP0984677A1 (en) 1997-05-14 1998-05-14 Voluntary milking

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
GB9709740D0 GB9709740D0 (en) 1997-07-02
GB2325141A true GB2325141A (en) 1998-11-18

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Family Applications (1)

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GB9709740A Withdrawn GB2325141A (en) 1997-05-14 1997-05-14 Automatic milking system

Country Status (4)

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EP (1) EP0984677A1 (en)
CA (1) CA2287328A1 (en)
GB (1) GB2325141A (en)
WO (1) WO1998051143A1 (en)

Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2000041559A1 (en) * 1999-01-15 2000-07-20 Delaval Holding Ab Method and device for positioning teat cups on a milking animal
WO2015009167A1 (en) * 2013-07-19 2015-01-22 Radian Technology 2012 Limited Methods and systems relating to milking sheds

Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1996013151A1 (en) * 1994-10-31 1996-05-09 Maasland N.V. An implement for milking animals
WO1996020587A1 (en) * 1995-01-02 1996-07-11 Gascoigne Melotte B.V. Method and device for positioning teat cups

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GB2157977A (en) 1984-05-04 1985-11-06 Metal Box Plc A device for producing a travelling jet of hot gas
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FR2595197B1 (en) * 1986-03-07 1988-11-18 Cemagref Automatic milking installation
NL8802332A (en) * 1988-09-21 1990-04-17 Lely Nv C Van Der A device for milking an animal.
GB8900084D0 (en) * 1989-01-04 1989-03-01 British Res Agricult Eng Milking
AT134044T (en) 1990-06-15 1996-02-15 Savi Techn Inc Method and apparatus for radio identification and tracking
US5242435A (en) 1991-01-04 1993-09-07 Johnson & Johnson Inc. Highly absorbent and flexible cellulosic pulp fluff sheet
CA2104829C (en) 1992-08-26 2004-11-23 British Technology Group Ltd. Synchronised electronic identification system
NZ314270A (en) 1992-11-18 1998-06-26 British Tech Group Transponder identification system: interrogator transmits inhibiting signal to disable transponders
NL9400630A (en) * 1993-11-26 1995-06-16 Lely Nv C Van Der A construction for automatically milking animals.
US5530702A (en) 1994-05-31 1996-06-25 Ludwig Kipp System for storage and communication of information
NL1000010C2 (en) * 1995-04-03 1996-10-04 Maasland Nv A method of positioning for automatically milking means under the udder of an animal, and also apparatus in which this method can be used.

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1996013151A1 (en) * 1994-10-31 1996-05-09 Maasland N.V. An implement for milking animals
WO1996020587A1 (en) * 1995-01-02 1996-07-11 Gascoigne Melotte B.V. Method and device for positioning teat cups

Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO2000041559A1 (en) * 1999-01-15 2000-07-20 Delaval Holding Ab Method and device for positioning teat cups on a milking animal
US6595157B1 (en) 1999-01-15 2003-07-22 Delaval Holding Ab Method and device for positioning teat cups on a milking animal
WO2015009167A1 (en) * 2013-07-19 2015-01-22 Radian Technology 2012 Limited Methods and systems relating to milking sheds

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
GB9709740D0 (en) 1997-07-02
EP0984677A1 (en) 2000-03-15
CA2287328A1 (en) 1998-11-19
WO1998051143A1 (en) 1998-11-19

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