Automatic cluster removers (ACRs) are a popular device used for reducing labour requirements and improving conditions for workers and cows in the milking shed. An economic analysis was conducted on a range of milking sheds and herd sizes to determine whether the costs associated with the installation of ACRs can be justified on the value of the saved labour alone. The analysis suggested that the technology could be a good investment in many Australian dairies, with a nominal internal rate of return (IRR) of up to 75%. The performance of the investment was dependant on being able to remove labour from the dairy after the installation of the devices. As the potential to make labour savings generally increases with shed and herd size, returns on investment also increased with these two factors. While the cash labour savings are a major attraction to the adoption of new technologies, there are a number of costs and benefits that are difficult to quantify, but are important when considering an investment. These include herd health, occupational health and safety, worker comfort, and managerial control of the dairy shed.


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