When it comes down to getting milk out of cows, sometimes it’s the basics that ring true regardless of the milking system.
If cows eat more, generally they will make more milk. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota shows how that philosophy plays out in herds milked with robotic milkers.
Management, housing and lameness prevalence data were collected from 33 farms with automated milking systems in Minnesota and Wisconsin. All farms used free-flow cow traffic with their robotic milking systems.
CONTINUOUS FEED ACCESS
The farms with automatic feed push-up via a robot produced more milk per robot per day and per cow per day than farms where feed was pushed up manually. One would assume cows benefited from having feed in front of them more often. Data analysis across 32 of the farms showed average age of the cows, milking frequency and speed, number of cows per robot and the amount of concentrate fed per robot had a positive impact on milk yield per robot. Again, many of those same factors would impact production in conventional systems as well.
Other factors, such as new or retrofitted facilities, freestall surface, manure removal system or the number of robots per pen did not affect production. Factors that had a negative impact on production were number of failed and refused cow visits to the robot, the time spent preparing the udder before milking and applying a teat disinfectant after milking, and the amount of residual concentrate feed per cow.
Researchers also note, as expected, average days in milk of the herd had an impact on daily milk yield per cow.
The study shows, regardless of milking system, the same management factors apply. Providing access to fresh feed on a continual basis so cows can eat as much as they want, when they want, is important. Also, harvesting milk in an effective and timely manner is important to productivity.
To see a feed pusher in action, watch this video below: