My Grazing Week: On ABC Grazing


Andrew is back with the next installment of My Grazing Week and milk yield is starting to decline.

My Grazing Week: On ABC Grazing

  • ADDED
  • 2 years ago

Andrew is back with the next installment of My Grazing Week and milk yield is starting to decline.

Robotic system: 1 DeLaval VMS™ box unit voluntary milking on grass

Recap summer 1:

MS/cow/day: 2.16kg

Grass GR: 75Kg

(27th July– 2nd August)

Milk KPI’s

Fat

4.24%

Protein

3.70%

kg/cow/day

26.2kg

MS/cow/day

2.08kg/cow

SCC (‘000)

53

TBC (‘000)

4

Concentrates

Rotation length

3.5kg

21 days

Life on the farm

Milk yield has started to decline, as is expected at this time of year. However, the milk solids are climbing so this should minimise the impact on the end of month milk cheque. Protein levels are excellent at 3.70% and the ad-lib barley straw is holding the fat levels at 4.24%. There is no change in Somatic Cell Count staying low at 53,000.

Grass growth has been extremely slow this week, as this corner of the country seems to have escaped the rain that the rest received. GR is at around 40 kg Dm/ha but with rain over the weekend this should start to increase.

125kg/ha of 27.2.5.5 was blanket spread on the grazing platform, so this should also help with grass growth.

We have started to put in some new roadways down some of the paddocks. These are to add a solid roadway for the cows for when weather conditions worsen coming into October/November months, and in the spring time. We hope to be able to extend our grazing season with these new road ways by being able to get the cows out earlier next spring, and indoors later this winter (depending on farm cover).

Optimal gate change times

When operating three-way grazing, there must be three different allocations of grass available for the cow, in a 24 hour period.

Although cows in a voluntary milking system have different routines than on a conventional system, they still have particular grazing patterns, and particular times of the day where they graze more and times where they do not graze so much.

As part of a project undertaken by Institut de L’elevage in France, called AutoGrassMilk, grazing patterns and behaviour in cows was studied. They did this by using a uniaxial accelerometer sensor fitted to the cow. This tracks whether the cow is eating, her eating time, and number of meals consumed in the day.

Rumination, standing, lying and walking were also recorded using this device. The graze times are clearly displayed on the graph below. From this graph we can clearly see three obvious (possibly four) peak grazing times. These are the times of the day that the cow will graze for the longest and consume the most amount of dry matter from grass.

Using this information we have been able to manipulate cow flow by having gate changes around these peak intake times (circled on the graph). These times are when the cow will have the largest need for grass and therefore will want to go and find that grass.

We have found that having gate change times anywhere between 23:00-01:00, 08:00-09:00, and 16:00-17:00 encourages good cow flow throughout the entire day and the night.

In the graph we can see that grazing time around 21:00 is very low and again at 05:00. We should avoid gate changes at these times as the cows will not have a great incentive to find new grass.



A gate change between 23:00 and 01:00 has the most positive impact on cow flow in the night mainly due to the cow having a desire for grass and they will be more likely to return to the robot in search of this.

From this study another interesting observation was that there was a lot of variation between different animals. The more dominant the cow, the longer she spends grazing, and the more grass she will eat, and the more visits to the robot.

The dominant cows tended to spend more time grazing than the lesser dominant cows. The conclusion that the project discovered was that the less dominant cows do more standing around, and are not let graze where they want to graze by the dominant cows.

There is a solution to this that we have come up with to give these less dominant heifers more of a chance on the system. I will be discussing this in the coming few weeks, and the benefits that we have seen from the new technique applied.

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