Nov. 22 2023 05:03 PM

Sponsored content created by Andy Lenkaitis, automated milking system herd management engineer for GEA.

Robots provide critical data insights to help you be a better herd manager. They deliver a consistent milking experience for the cow, offer more schedule flexibility, and help you focus on being a cow person again.

The key to being the best manager is making the most of your time and the robot’s time. Use these four tips to be an effective herd manager with robots.

1. Focus on the little things

Whether you are three months into using robots or three years, the most successful robotic herd managers are the ones who focus on optimizing milking visit distribution. Are cows coming to the box well on their own? Can you make adjustments to level the load on the system throughout the day? For example, cows want to visit the box at 5 a.m. because there is no feed at the bunk, and you typically put a fresh batch out at 6 a.m. Delivering feed earlier can help distribute milkings more evenly.

2. Seek an outside perspective

Getting an outside perspective can also kick your management up a notch. One significant benefit of strong dealer partners is the view they bring from seeing many farms. They learn from what other farms are doing and can share different approaches.

Farms that excel with robots focus on cow maintenance to ensure quick, efficient attachment, such as routinely trimming tails and singeing udder hair. Just like in conventional milking, cow physiology does not change. We still want 45 to 90 seconds between the first touch and milking. Anything you can do to give that cow a better experience in the robot helps ensure a quick attachment and milkout.

Your dealer partner can share insights like these to help you learn and adjust your protocols to improve efficiency.

3. Be open to change

Herd management often evolves with years of experience. The best herd managers prioritize reviewing their long-term reports quarterly or annually with their milking equipment dealer or their dealer and robot manufacturer’s herd management expert. During these meetings, review reports for both equipment and cow performance.

Key equipment data to review includes attachment time, box time, milk flow, milk per milking, and average visits. For herd data, review fresh cow performance trends and average milking intervals based on production and milk persistency. Reviewing your current performance and comparing it to three, six, and 12 months ago can help identify where you should spend more or less time and adjust what you are doing.

4. Remember, you’re still a cow person

Do not let the robot get in the way of using your cow insights to make decisions. Typically, 90% of the time when I work with farms, their challenges are not robot-related.

Happy cows make for a happy farmer. Making the most of everyone’s time, maintaining your robot, and a consistent cow environment will result in good letdowns and milkouts.

Take the leap to robotic milking with a strong herd management and equipment partner at your side.

GEA offers today’s progressive dairy producers leading-edge milking and manure equipment technology, along with a full line of aftermarket products and services – all under one umbrella. With GEA, you truly have a team who offers comprehensive solutions for your operation at the highest possible operating efficiency.