While robotic milking is becoming increasingly attractive to farmers looking to address labour challenges, more milk buyers are also stipulating that cows must be grazed.
So, how do you combine the two?
We spoke to consultant Max Sealy of The Farm Consultancy Group to get the lowdown on how to make robots work with grazing cows.
Below are six tips:
1. Consider location of grazing paddocks
The maximum is 800m from the robot, but this should be the maximum distance of one of the three daily allocations, otherwise robot visits will be compromised.
2. Think about grass allocation
Not over-feeding grass is key to encourage cows back to the robot. Measuring grass is a must to enable careful budgeting. Some farmers believe three daily feeds works best , but fewer feeds can be used if grazing intakes aren’t a priority.
3. Have good grazing infrastructure in place
Good tracks, along with fencing and water troughs, are essential.
4. Reseed regularly
This will help maximise grass quality, which will aid intakes.
5. Visit other robot farms
There’s no one size fits all, so visit other farmers and find out what strategies could work on your farm.
6. Think about buffer feeding
Carefully balancing buffer with grazing is important so grazing intakes are not compromised. Some farmers may prefer controlled traffic systems (where cows only have access to the robot if they have permission) to ensure cows don’t show preference for buffer.