Earlier this week Lely's Farm Management Support Manager, Ben Smink, gave a lecture to Michigan State University graduate students interested in robot farm management and grazing. Smink began with the history of robotic milking, outlining the evolution of the robot with the introduction to the North American market in 2001, up until present with the focus being on dairy management.
"Robotic milking is not rocket science," said Smink. "Robotic milking is just a way of milking, but the management around the robots is important in making sure these machines are being implemented successfully on a dairy."
In the first half of the lecture, Smink reviewed several topics including why producers buy a robot: lifestyle, labor efficiency, quality of milking, higher production and improved herd management; as well as robotic milking vs. conventional milking: the difference in cow contact.
"We move from physical labor to less physical labor and more observation of natural behavior of cows in the barn in combination with the massive amount of information and data you get from the management program of a robot. So, there is a difference in cow contact and increase in quality time with the herd."
During his nearly two-hour lecture, Smink covered many things with the class, taking questions and fueling discussion on:
- Correct ration management
- Sufficient light
- Free cow traffic, forced routing, guided cow traffic, feed first
- Claw health
- Milkings per day
- Startup support and procedure
- Yield and SCC results
- Weather conditions and robots
- Barn layout
- Consulting - cow behavior, feeding strategies, pasture management, herd management and people management
Lely is dedicated to making robotic milking a success on your farm. Involvement in our community, management research, producer education and the honor of sharing our knowledge with the next generation of dairy consultants are all major components in our effort to ensure a sustainable, profitable and enjoyable future for the agricultural industry. Lely would like to thank Michigan State University for the opportunity to lecture on these topics, about which we are so passionate!