Grazing and T4C

Grazing on robotic farms is being carried out successfully on many Lely robotic milking dairy farms around the world. But to make grazing with a robotic milking system successful, it is important to follow some essential “grazing guidelines”. In this article we will discuss the various aspects that can influence farm management and how to organize T4C settings correctly.

Management, Grazing, T4C & InHerd, Feeding, Milking

Positive motivation is crucial

With Lely’s free cow traffic, you can attract your cows to the robot on a regular basis by providing concentrates in the robot. These concentrates complement the feed they receive with the PMR ration at the feed fence. However, the question on everyone’s lips is how can cows be motivated when grazing is involved? Instead of using concentrates, you can encourage cows to visit the robot by giving them access to fresh grass several times per day.

Grazing systems

When a cow’s motivation changes, it is important to safeguard this change via the correct pasture. The Lely Grazeway selection box is used to steer the grazing system. Correct allocation of grass each day and the promise of fresh grass every 8 -12 hours motivates cows to return to the robot. Different pastures, A, B or C, can be made available during the day. (figure 1). With a good road network, cows will walk up to 0.6 miles to and from the robot. Click here for more detailed information about the Grazeway.

Figure 1

Grassland management options

You have three main options for implementing grazing on your farm. In this paragraph we have summed up the advantages and inconveniences.

The Lely Grazeway selection box is controlled via T4C and therefore needs to be configured correctly. The following paragraphs contain a step-by-step explanation of how to configure this.

Step 1: Set routing direction and activate grazing

1. Go to the Configuration-Devices menu in T4C and select the Grazeway.
2. Set/check the default direction
3. Activate Grazing A (B,C, and/or D)'

When a ‘Criteria’ is marked (active), T4C will check in order of appearance if cows are meeting one of the criteria. If a cow meets one of the criteria she will be routed to the assigned routing direction.

1. Mark routing direction 2 for Grazing
2. Save settings

Figure 2: Edit Grazeway settings: In the above figure, routing direction 1 is the ‘Barn’; routing direction 2 is the ‘Pasture’. The routing directions depend on the configuration settings.

Step 2: Set automatic routing task

Navigate in T4C to the Data Entry-Settings menu and select the Routing tasks, tab Automatic.
1. Activate ‘Grazing enabled’
2. Activate ‘Grazing A (B, C and/or D)'
3. Save settings

Figure 3; Set automatic grazing task; the figure above has an option allowing you to activate grazing for ‘All day’ or for a specific time e.g. 06:00-18:00 hour

Figure 4; set near to be milked interval, default at 70%

Grazing interval

The default setting for the grazing interval is 70% (figure 4): this means that if a cow reaches 70% of her calculated milking interval she is not allowed to go outside anymore. The cow must have a successful milking before she is allowed to go outside again.


• A cow is allowed to be milked 4 times per day.
• Time between milkings: 6 hours.
• Grazing interval: 70%.
• If this cow exceeds 70% of 6 hours (4.2 hours), the Grazeway will not allow her to go outside.

6 key factors for successful grazing

1. A good infrastructure should be provided to and from the pasture with sufficient broad, flat paths that are easily accessible for cows.
2. The walking distance from the robot to the far end of the field should be no longer than 0.6 miles.
3. Be aware of the grass quantity. Allocating too much grass makes cows lazy and may lead to slower visiting patterns; in such cases tighter strip grazing is recommended.
4. Always strive for good cow and claw health as this helps to ensure more active cows.
5. Try to prevent farm traffic from crossing the cow paths as much as possible. If this is unavoidable, a barrier, cattle grid or electric wire at a height of 4 in could be a solution.
6. Water stations should be strategically located adjacent to these routes or possibly on them.