The transition from conventional methods of milking to robotics is one of those critical steps that you can execute successfully provided you have the correct plan in place. It will require methodic execution and consistent work. It is also important to avoid any negative impacts on cows and people by stopping any undesirable events from occurring.
When you apply these principles it enables you to enjoy the benefits and features associated with this excellent technology. Every dairy will initiate these transition processes from different starting points. Today, around 60% of the installations for automatic-milking systems are newly constructed, while 40% are retrofitted. This is where the cows stay in one environment before as well as after the startup.
Both of these scenarios are very different and will require diverse strategies when it comes to transition management. A new facility often has an impact that is greater on a herd during the period of transition due to a major change in the environment. I would highly recommend you see Fullwood Packo and see what they have to offer.
One of the strategies to ease this transition phase into a new facility can involve housing the cows in a new barn. The milking will continue in a conventional parlour. From all angles, transitioning the animals gradually is highly important when it comes to adapting the cows.
Stress levels are obviously lower with a retrofitted installation since the cows are already familiar with the environment. This lowers the impact on how the cows behave and milk production after the startup. These transition periods involve three phases. This includes 6 months before the startup, the startup, and then the 6 months after the startup.
In this post, we will discuss the 1st-phase which is the 6 months before the startup. This phase is highly important from every perspective. This is the period where all strategies and plans have to be defined. Unfortunately, this is often a step that many dairies underestimate. Ignoring any important decision-making details with the startup plan can lead to potential delays and undue stress.
The transition into robotics will require skills that concern technology along with herd management. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a management team will be key to preparing yourself for these new challenges. If you already work with herd-management software, you are most likely already prepared.
If on the other hand, you have never worked with this type of software before, now may be the right time to take a few classes. This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in computers, but you will need to learn about the basics. This experience comes with time and practice. Visiting and touring dairies is one of the requirements for farmers that have an interest in robotics.
To learn the right way to operate a robotic-milking operation and to benchmark your own success, you need to build up a network that involves like-minded peers. Over and above the traditional learning methods which include attending meetings and reading materials, there are other education channels that include virtual libraries, webinars, and social media communities.
Ensure that you have done your homework in the way of using various learning strategies along with inviting all your team members on the farm and all your external advisers.
The 3 main criteria to take into consideration when you choose cows for your robotic-milking system include legs and feet, udder health, and udder conformation. When it comes to robotic milking, time matters, and the ability to attach accurately and quickly becomes necessary for the performance of the system and the health of the cow.
Choose the cows that have teats that are centrally placed, avoiding the cows with rear-crossed teats. Find the right balance between udder cleft and teat placement as this contributes to positively impacting the longevity of the cow. Once you have defined your cow group, your main goal should be to make sure that every cow that enters the system is free from any contagious pathogens.
Unfortunately, due to dynamics and group management, segregating cows that are infected isn’t viable when it comes to robotic-milking systems when you compare them to traditional milking systems. It is highly recommended that you run bulk-tank cultures every month, and monitor your cows individually.