Sept. 17 2019 01:18 PM

4dBarn uses Time-laps video analysis to boost efficiency in robotic barns

The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at nor¬mal speed, time appears to be moving faster (Wikipedia)

4dBarn, a Finnish consulting company, has used time-lapse videos to investigate milking cows’ behavior in robotic barns since 2014. The main focus is on the wait¬ing area in front of the robots, plus lying, eating, and drinking behavior of the cows.

Nighttime is an ideal time for time-lapse re¬cording in a robot barn because that’s when the cows’ behavior is independent of human inter¬action. It is also a very good opportunity to see what is happening with the cows those six to eight hours when people are not there.

From the video, it is possible to find problems related to cows behavior like excess standing time, crowded or totally empty feed bunk etc. Quite often we have been able to pinpoint the problem area as the stalls. Many farms we have investigated also have had problems with nighttime lighting. Lights that are too dim and total darkness can be the reason for too few visits to the robot.

Feeding and the timing of feeding has a great impact on cow traffic in a barn with robotic milk¬ing. In many cases, the feed bunk is empty for a long time, even hours before feed delivery. On the time-lapse video, you can see that an empty feed bunk is a total stop sign for cow traffic. On some farms, feeding is done after the main work has been done, somewhere between 8 to 9 a.m. Cows have been activated earlier when fetched for milking or when cleaning stalls, so they start to seek feed. Without anything to eat, they go back to the stalls. A lot of milk doesn’t get harvested in this situation

One interesting thing that is easily seen in time-lapse videos are the “roadblocks” in the barn, for example wrong positioning of a cow brush or waterer. A cow in heat can also be a “roadblock” in a robot barn when it’s not grouped properly. One rambunctious cow can empty the entire feed ¬bunk by chasing other cows away several times a day. From what we have seen on time-lapse videos, we think it’s very important to group cows in heat in a separate pen or area

Time-lapse photography and analysis are an ef¬fective tool to improve the efficiency of existing robotic barns. These videos help us design even better facilities for cows and humans.

Finnish 4dBarn is a leading independent consulting company, offering unique robot barn functional design and troubleshooting for dairy farms. Our mission is to coach the farmer and help him to design the barn which suites his goals and management. Each of the layouts is designed around the unique management style of the producer.

We emphasize animal health and welfare, good management and labor efficiency. Our consultation services focus on optimizing labor efficiency through barn and calf barn design, cow traffic systems, and gate placement.

For more information please visit