My Grazing Week: Summer on ABC Robotic Grazing


Andrew Walsh is back with the popular My Grazing Week and this week he's troubleshooting some common problems on the farm and there's a lesson in it for all of us.

My Grazing Week: Summer on ABC Robotic Grazing

  • ADDED
  • 2 years ago

Andrew Walsh is back with the popular My Grazing Week and this week he's troubleshooting some common problems on the farm and there's a lesson in it for all of us.

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

Recap summer 1:

MS/cow/day: 2.16kg

Grass GR: 50Kg

Improved cow flow

Staying positive

Week: (27th July– 2nd August)

Milk KPI’s

Fat

4.24%

Protein

3.68%

kg/cow/day

27.3kg

MS/cow/day

2.16kg/cow

SCC (‘000)

53

TBC (‘000)

4

Concentrates

3.8kg

Life on the Farm

There was a substantial amount of rain this week and moderate temperatures with highs of 19C, grass growth has been high this week compared to last. GR at the moment is around 75 kg DM/ha.

We harvested the winter oats this week with an average yield of 7.6t/ha. The yield was average, nothing too exciting but it will still be making a profit at that, however the quality of the grain was poor as the grain fill earlier on was poor, this was the reason for only an average yield.

New water drinkers were fitted in one area that was slightly lacking access to water. This was inserted to increase water intake, and to further increase cow flow efficiency.

The majority of our spring bull calves were castrated and placed on to some lush after grass. The calves are thriving well weighing between 170-220kg.

This week the whole software for the computer, gates, and robot got an upgrade. We went from DelPro 4.5 to DelPro 5.2.1, so I will be keeping you up to date on the new features and what we can now do with the new software. So far, some the biggest changes identified are: the integration of the BCS to DelPro, and more adaptable feed tables.

What happens when 'something goes wrong'?

Continuing on from last weeks ‘staying positive’ topic, when ‘something goes wrong’, it is so important to maintain this frame of mind.

When talking to farmers or visiting farms with robots, you are very rarely told about scenarios where things do not quite go as planned. I think it is to be expected that everything does not go as planned 100% of the time with anything we do in life, why would this be an exception?

After the teething problems are ironed out, and your cows are running how you would like them to operate on the system, about 97% of the time everything runs perfectly. There is however always going to be that 3% where something does go wrong. It is worth keeping in mind that nothing is perfect, and something may always go wrong!!

These machines are running close to 24/7 and in a lot of cases 365 days of the year, so we need to cut the system some slack, and allow this 3%!

I mentioned last week that most of the problems are management problems, and this still holds true (most of the time!) for when ‘something goes wrong’ out in the field.

This can be anything from a broken wire, a fallen over fence post, or even as far as the bull digging a hole in the ditch! Trust me waking up in the morning to a herd of cows spanned across a 5 ha field (when supposed to be on 0.5ha strip) is not fun for anyone involved!!

When this first happens, you think the world is coming crashing down!

It isn’t! Yes, your cows may take a few days to come back to normality, but they will eventually return to their usual habit of travel, and a couple of weeks later you won’t even remember it happening. (Your milk cheque at the end of the month won’t include the penalty don’t worry!).

The point being, when ‘something goes wrong’ there is no point getting frustrated about it. Just do your best to get things back in order, move on from it, and learn from this encounter.

A lot of these problems can be avoided by

  • Checking there is enough electrical current in all surrounding wires
  • Your rolls of nylon wire are carrying this current all the way through
  • Double check that the strip wires are off the ground and not caught on a thistle or dock leaves (number one culprit!)
  • Fence cows away from where you do not want them, with a good strong fence e.g. away from other livestock

These are just a selection on a check list to help avoid problems out in the paddocks and prevent your cows eating that nice field of after grass you had growing so well!

As mentioned these systems run perfectly pretty much most of the time, but not all of the time. Try to avoid these things going wrong by doing the basics out in the fields, such as fencing, adequate strip fences etc.

With the correct fencing, about 80% of that 3% will never happen! When you do the maths this reduces your problems in the field down to a very small percentage!

Whether you’re looking at investing in a blue, silver, red, or green milking robot, it is worth bearing in mind that none of these systems run perfectly all of the time, but they do most of the time!

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