My Grazing Week: Winter 2 Going for gold in milk production


Andrew Walsh is back with this week's My Grazing week and today he's analyzing the results of his AMS KPI project.

My Grazing Week: Winter 2 Going for gold in milk production

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  • 2 years ago

Andrew Walsh is back with this week's My Grazing week and today he's analyzing the results of his AMS KPI project.

Robotic system: DeLaval VMS™ robotic grass based milking

Recap last week:

MS/cow/day: 1.55kg

Grass GR: 30Kg

Meeting energy requirements

(09th- 15th November)

Milk KPI’s

Fat

4.99%

Protein

4.07%

Yield

17.5kg

MS/cow/day

1.58/cow

SCC (‘000)

60

TBC (‘000)

7

Concentrates

% Closed

4kg + 1.7 kg DM silage

85%

Life on the farm

Wet weather this week has meant grazing conditions have deteriorated, and grass growth slowed. We are still grazing full time, offering a grass silage buffer in the morning, and in the afternoon.

The cows have increased milk yield by 1kg/cow/day this week. The additional buffer feed has contributed to this increase.

Due to the wet weather and short supply of grass, we have begun housing the larger beef cattle this week. We clipped all of their tails, to reduce dirt on the cattle, and we clipped their backs to reduce risk of overheating.

International KPI project results

Last year I talked about the AMS international KPI project that our farm was lucky to be a part of. It was undertaken by NSW Department of Primary Industries: Dairy. The head of the project is Nicolas Lyons (Development Officer NSW DPI, Australia) and he looked at the important aspects across nineteen pasture based AMS farms, in terms of milk production, AMS utilisation, and farm demographic. The project ran for twelve months, extracting data from each farm each month.

Results

Nearly all of the participating farms were allocating either three, or four areas of grass each day. Four-way grazing is becoming an increasing trend, especially amongst Australian farms. Most of the farms change gate times with accordance to the time of year, and importantly daylight hours.

Farm performance

The noticeable thing to point out from the results here is that there was a very wide range in performance across all of the farms. With total milking cows ranging from 40-600 cows, it is not surprising that other performance indicators have a wide range!

Milk yield ranged from 12kg- 37kg, while milking frequency ranged from 1.5-3.1 milkings/cow/day. The average concentrates fed was 5.5kg ranging from 0.2 kg- 11.3kg.

The surprising thing from this is that the level of concentrates fed, did not affect milking frequency. The farms in New Zealand, feeding only 200-300g of concentrate to each cow in the day, had similar milking frequencies than the farms offering much higher levels in the robots or feed stations.

Therefore, on a pasture based system grass is the main driver of milking frequency, and less likely to be the feed in the robot.

Milk quality

Excellent milk composition and quality was achieved across the AMS farms in the project. Average fat was 4.2% fat and 3.4% protein.

The average SCC was 180,000 with range from 25,000 up to 400,000.

So, clearly good milk quality is defiantly achievable with robots. Poor milk quality is usually related to something other than the robots i.e. cows lying down post-milking, mucky laneways etc.

Milk frequency

The higher the milk frequency, the higher the concentrate intake is. This is an obvious occurrence, as the more the cow visits the robot the more time she has to consume her allocated feed in the day.

However, a higher milking frequency was associated with higher incomplete milkings. If a cow is averaging 20kg in the day and milks twice a day then she gives 10kg per milking. If she milks three times she will give around 7 kg per milking. The udder is less full, and teats less spread out, therefore less of a chance of the robot finding the teats.

Milking speed

The higher yielding cows tended to have a higher flow rate. It is often the common perception that the higher the milk yield, the longer the cow takes to milk, so the less cows you can have on the system. But, some of the higher yielding cows can often milk just as quick as your lower yielding cows because they give more milk per minute.

But herds with higher milk speed were associated with higher incidences of mastitis.

Robot performance

The peak number of milkings per robot occurrs during the daytime with a slump during the night, between the hours of 03:00- 05:00.

If we were able to get all of these farms to have more of a consistent cow flow by managing cow traffic, we could increase robot performance drastically. It is estimated that farms have the potential to go from an average of 120 milkings per day to 180 milkings per day. Each farm could milk 27 more cows per robot and produce 700 kg more per robot per day. This would mean that a farmer with four robots could actually have all of their cows milked by just three robots, reducing investment costs and cost per litre of milk produced!

Cow inefficacy’s

When we look at all of the cows across the entire project (>6000cows!) it was highlighted that 0.6% of these had greater than 50% incomplete milkings and 18% have greater than 10%. This is quite high and this proves than some cows are not suited to these systems and cause these inefficiencies.

Summary

This project achieved exactly what it was set out to do, which was to establish a baseline for AMS farms, in terms of cows, and robot performance.

There was a huge amount of variation amongst the farms, with all of the farms having potential to improve utilisation and performance!

There is potential to increase AMS performance and utilisation by around 60%!

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