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.”