Shifting From Conventional Means To Robotic Milking And Feeding
As long as you properly devise and execute a plan, the critical process of moving away from conventional milking methods and milking equipment to robotic milking can be done. The work and execution needed to complete such a plan need to be methodical and consistent. Events that negatively affect the cows and people should be avoided at all cost. This technology and all of its benefits can be enjoyed when these principles are applied. Some dairies start transitioning at different points than others. Out of all automatic milking systems, 40 per cent are made from retrofitting existing dairies to let cows use the same environment as before, while 60 per cent are newly constructed.
The transition management strategies for these scenarios must be different. In the transitional phase, the major change in the environment of a new facility can cause the herd to be heavily impacted. Performing milking duties in the parlour that the cows are used to while housing them in the newly constructed barn can go a long way in making the transition easier. The cows will be more easily adapted to the new facility when they are transitioned gradually. The familiar surroundings will put less stress on the cows, the cows will have better behaviour, and the milk production won’t be greatly impacted when retrofitting is done.
Three phases are used for the transition period: a six month period before startup, the actual start-up period, and a six-month post-startup period. The first phase, six months before the startup, is what this article will explore. There is no other phase more important than this one. Strategies and plans are created during this six-month phase. People will often underestimate what must go into this step. Transition delays and unnecessary stress may arise if the planning for this phase is done poorly and important details are missed.
More skills for managing the herd and working with technology will be required when making the shift to robotics. In preparation for the challenges that will come, and management team strengths and weaknesses must be recognized. There is a good chance that you are ready for the transition if you’ve previously used software for managing the herd. You’ll have to take some classes if you haven’t been using the software and haven’t been working with computers. You just need to become familiar with the basics, as taking the expert approach isn’t necessary. Time and practice will give you all the experience you need. For farmers who are thinking about using robotics, visiting another dairy and taking a tour is a good practice that is commonly done.
Creating a network of peers is something that you’ll have to do if you want to figure out the right way to use robotic milking and to gauge your progress against other dairies. Webinars, social media communities, and virtual libraries are newer, interactive ways to get an education, which can be used in conjunction with meetings, reading materials, and other traditional ways of learning. Bring the entire farm team to your learning efforts and use many different strategies to learn about everything related to robotic milking.
Choosing cows for robotic milking systems will be done with three pieces of criteria in mind: feet and legs, the health of the udder, and udder conformation. Time is of the essence when it comes to robotic milking, and the cow will be healthy and give a better performance when attachments can be done accurately and quickly. Cows with rear-crossed teats should be avoided in favour of ones with teats that are centrally placed. The longevity of the cow will be at its greatest when a proper balance between udder cleft and teat placement is found.
Looking at the animals that are being milked and making sure that they remain pathogen-free is the main thing to practice when the final cow group has been formed. Although conventional milking allows for infected cows to be segregated form healthy ones, this isn’t exactly possible with robotic milking systems due to the dynamics of it all. Cows should be monitored one by one and bulk tank cultures should be run each month to check for pathogens.