Weiss Centennial Farm – 100 days with “Johann”

This post has been reblogged with permission of the owner, Weiss Centennial Farm.

The Weiss family installed Lely’s Astronaut robotic milking system on their Michigan farm in June 2011. The robot is named, “Johann,” in honor of the Weiss pioneer who settled their farm in 1853, five generations ago.

For more from Weiss Centennial Farm visit their blog or Proud to Dairy page.

Johann LELY has been working 100 days…
Posted by Joanmarie Weiss, September 21, 2011

Today is day 100 for Johann LELY working in the new dairy barn!  When my kids were in kindergarten day 100 was a big deal which included a party and posters of favorite things in hundreds…  Well, as you can see above the cows are coming to the party!  We are milking 53 cows today; we sent four to the dry cow housing where those ladies will rest up for a couple of months before they calve in early winter time.

One of the new tricks our cows learned is to open gates!  As any dairy farmer will tell you, “That ain’t good.”  Well, they push a gate right at the robot to gain entrance to the milking box.  We have to make double and triple sure that all the other gates around the farm are very secure because this is one habit we don’t want them practicing anywhere else!

Margie and Roger have plenty of chores to do still, there’s an exercise yard to keep clean, bunks to fill with feed, calves to nurture, crops to store for winter, and still they are finding some time to just stand and marvel how Johann milks!

Scott took all these photos I am using today. For this one, he had to get down at the level of the robot’s arm, in behind the milking unit, and then shoot the picture.  When the cows are in the milking box they get a pellet that provides energy and protein.  Each cow gets exactly enough for her expected milk production.  The pellets are mostly corn and soymeal: with commodity prices high right now we are very careful to calibrate just what she needs and no more…  Yeah, about those zip ties in the forefront of the photo: we did this to keep the ocular shield out-of-the-way of the teat cups.  Seems all robotic farms have some version of this farm fix!

For the most part, when we go in to check on Johann during the day this is what we want to see.  A cow in the milking box, milker attached, everything going smoothly.  We scrape manure away from the robot several times a day, but these ladies eat 100 lbs of food every day so there’s always more manure – real organic fertilizer for our fields – being produced…

Finally, Scott thought you might like to see what we see when we go look at the robot.  This is the X-Link computer which is integrated into the robot and gives information about the cow being milked.  Forgive the flies and specks, Scott did not think to polish up the screen before taking the picture.  Well, you can see how durable this computer is, right?!  I wish Nextel could make a cell phone as sturdy…  Anyway, the cow in these photos is “804″.  On this particular visit to the robot, she had already given 18.4 lbs. of milk.  The RF and RR – right front and right rear – teats were already finished milking.  The number just to the right is the amount of time it took to milk that quarter last milking in minutes and seconds.  So, LR was 3 minutes and 1 second.  This time the robot was feeding her 3.o4 lbs, which was pretty close to the 2.99 lbs the computer had calculated she needed.  This amount is based on how many times she visited the milking box in the last 24 hours, plus how much milk she gave in the last 24 hours, plus the number of days she has been milking in this lactation.  On the left side near the bottom, you can see she weighed 1213 lbs.  We keep close track of weight changes in this new milking system which is an immense help in detecting heats for breeding and other health issues the cow may encounter.  Remember, she eats a hundred pounds of food and drinks a bathtub full of water on a healthy, normal day.  If she is off feed or water, we can see that pretty quick with dramatic weight loss.  At the top of the left side you can see she has been milking for 4 minutes, 55 seconds (4’55″) and has spent a total of 7’20″ (come on, you can read that…, now you can help us milk cows when we go on vacation!) in the milking box during this visit.  That’s actually a little longer than we aim for, 804 must have been a bit fidgety when she came in and that means some delay in getting teats washed and milking unit attached.

So, here we are, 100 days into a new lifestyle.  LELY’s advertising tagline is “LIVE. LIFE. LELY.”  When Eric Inbody, who sold and installed Johann LELY here, called the other day to bring another dairy farmer over to look at the robot he asked Roger, “Are you enjoying Living Life Lely-style?”  Roger’s answer?  An enthusiastic YES!!!

For more from Weiss Centennial Farm visit their blog or Proud to Dairy page.

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