Farmstead Energy Assessment A study produced by The Iowa Dairy Center & Northeast Iowa Community College

During a 2014 energy audit, Iowa's Dairy Center evaluated energy consumption of its dairy operations to compare traditional milking systems to robotic milking systems.

The study looked at energy resources—energy consumed by four major areas:

  • Livestock Housing - free-stall and special needs barns
  • Parlor Milking Systems - milk harvesting and cooling
  • Robotic Milking Systems - milk harvesting and cooling
  • Educational Activities - classrooms, labs, observational platform(s)


Robotic milking is the clear choice to reduce energy use and lower energy costs

The robotic milking system demonstrated a much lower energy demand than a traditional milking parlor.

Per-cow and per-hundredweight energy utilization and annual costs are lower.

For natural gas consumption, robotic milking system use is considerably lower than the milking parlor.

The milking parlor’s floor heating system accounts for most of the difference between the systems
*The consumption is highest in the winter months when space heating equipment is used.

Electric energy consumption was slightly lower for the robotic milking system compared to the milking parlor.

Hot water use for washing CIP milking equipment in the parlor is estimated at about 3 gallons per cow per day, compared to about 1.4 gallons per cow per day in the robotics.


The robotic milking system has a much lower electric, water and natural gas usage rate, resulting in a lower annual energy cost compared to the milking parlor system. In addition, the cows in the robotic system also produce more milk and milk more times per day, resulting in more milk in the tank for producers.

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