Automated milking systems come with advantages that include customization of both milking schedules and feeding of concentrates based on individual cows' requirements. Along with customization, however, comes inconsistency.
"Consistency in automated milking systems is one of the biggest challenges," said Alex Bach, head of ruminant production at the Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries. He continued, "Cow visits to the milker vary from day to day, which can significantly change concentrate intake."
At the recent Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA and ASAS, he offered applicable feeding advice to those trying to manage this inconsistency and optimize the benefits of customization of the feeding plan.
Bach explained that most automated milking systems employ a two-part feeding program that includes a partial mixed ration and a concentrate feed at the milking robot. The concentrate is utilized to encourage cows to visit the milker and can also be a source of added energy and protein for high-producing cows.
In order to capitalize on this opportunity, Bach explained the importance of understanding how much concentrate should be made available at the robot.
The maximum economic return in regard to amount of concentrate fed at the robot, according to Bach, is 3 to 4 kilograms per day. He shared that this was adequate to attract cows to the milker while reducing wasted feed.
By maintaining concentrate at the robot to this amount, Bach said the overall cost of the ration was more economical than higher concentrate inclusion rates of 7 or 8 kilograms per day.
To conclude his presentation, Bach reminded attendees that great opportunities exist for automated milking systems when managed to optimize both customization and consistency. That's the tightrope robotic owners and nutritionists working with those automated milking systems face.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
August 1, 2016