Time-saving data improves robot management of slow milkers

Managing slow milkers can be automated through big data analysis on farm and bespoke brushing times, a robotic milking machine manufacturer claims.

Leys says this could allow its robot systems to run more cows on each robot, according to early trial work at more than 500 farms across the UK and EU.

This new feature is part of Lely’s new system, Horizon, which uses cloud-based data to tailor robots to individual cows.

See also: A dairy farmer’s guide to switching to robotic milking

Brushing certain cows’ teats for longer, to stimulate the milk let-down hormone oxytocin, could save up to 90 seconds a cow a day in bimodal cows – animals with an uneven milk production profile.

Some herds can be 30-50% bimodal, although maintaining rates below 10% can be achieved, said Lely’s Andy Paine.

Mr Paine said bimodal cows could often have teat sinus damage and were predisposed to mastitis and high cell counts if not given the right level of pre-milking stimulation. 

This is because the clusters are pumping when the teats are empty.

He added: “The time saved means the robots can manage slightly more cows, as it can be 30 seconds per milking. This is particularly useful for herds with lots of bimodal cows, which can be half.

“You may lose a bit of time with more brushing, but you gain time with more milking and the udders are kept in better condition.”

Available in October

The Horizon programme will come as standard on newly installed Lely systems from October but can be upgraded on a subscription package for about £500 a robot annualy, on A3s onwards.

Three levels of service are provided. The basic package costs about 30p a cow a month, the Control package costs about 43p, and Advance about 64p.

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