Friday Focus – Critical success factors for transitioning to robotic milking

An inquiry held amongst 104 North American farmers, who started with robotic milking between 2008 and 2010, has given us insight into the factors that are critical for a successful transition to robotic milking.

Results for Milk Production and Quality (pre-post robotic milking):

  • Milk yield improved by 6.3% over all herds.
  • Milk yield improved by 11% for herds which were milked twice a day without BST.
  • The age and type of the barn did not have a significant effect on milk production.
  • Bulk Tank Somatic Cell Counts (BTSCC) were not significantly different.
  • BTSCC improvement depends on SCC levels before start-up: on farms with a high SCC before robotic milking, a significant decline in SCC levels was found 1 year after the introduction of robotic milking. (Figure 1).

Critical success factors for robotic milking

Using sensors and information tools enables farmers to work pro-actively and solve bovine health problems before they become visible in the barn.

  • Barn layout: increased cow comfort, lots of space, open access to the robot.
  • Perfect feed ration encourages cows to go to the robot.
  • Professional guidance during the transition period from old method to using the robot.
  • Proper use of Precision Dairy Management tools.

Current Lely Astronaut users made the following recommendations to farmers switching to robotic milkers:

  • “Change daily management; use Lely precision dairy management tools.”
  • “Talk to an experienced robotic milking nutritionist, because feed is key to robotic milking success.”
  • “Visit other robot farmers and learn from them.”
  • “Prepare yourself. Take time to listen to Lely specialists, as they have experience.”
  • “Prepare the herd for the transition: Health, Feeding, Feet and Cow Comfort.”

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