How to achieve an optimally mixed ration

More and more farms around the world have started feeding with the Lely Vector Automatic Feeding System. We discussed the first results of fresh feeding in January’s FMS newsletter. In this article we would like to discuss some guidelines on how to achieve an optimally mixed ration for your cows.

Management, Feeding

Why is an optimally mixed ration so important?

We will begin by explaining why it is important to aim for an optimally mixed ration. First of all, giving cows a well-mixed ration ensures that all cows in any specific group receive the same ration and secondly, a well-mixed ration prevents sorting by the cows. An optimally mixed ration is therefore essential for the cows’ digestion and feed efficiency.

How can you find the optimally mixed ration?

There are various variable factors which affect the mixing results of the Lely Vector Automatic Feeding system. Some involve settings, while others involve management. We have summarized a top 10 of rules of thumb which can be recommended for improving the mixing result.

1.    Load long crops before short crops and dry crops before wet crops. 
-    For example, this means that you must load straw before silage and maize before brewers’ grain.
2.    Only load crops that are no longer then 4 inches. 
-    When crops are longer than 4 inches average, pre-chopping is advised before loading.
3.    Set the counter knife in the ‘pulsation’ mode. 
-    This means the counter knife will retract for a certain period after a set time and then become active again. This is a repeated process.
4.    Adapt the ‘after mixing time’ to crop conditions. 
-    In general, longer crops require a longer after mixing time, while shorter crops require a shorter after mixing time.
5.    Activate ‘eco mixing’ if the grabber takes a relatively long time to load the Mixing and Feeding Robot (MFR)
-    If this specific setting is used, the  MFR will start mixing for a certain set amount of time, each time after the grabber loads the MFR. This also saves energy.
6.    Consider the moment of adding supplements.
-    In a relatively moist ration, supplements can be added at an earlier stage of mixing as they will stick to the ration. When mixing a relatively dry ration, supplements should be added at a later stage of mixing to prevent them ‘sinking’ to the bottom of the MFR before actual feeding.
7.    Review the grabbing ‘depth’ of the grabber. 
-    When loading a bulky crop like straw, minimize the grabbing depth to avoid overloading this particular crop into the MFR and ration.
8.    Avoid underloading or overloading the MFR. 
-    If the MFR is underloaded, the mixing result will not be optimal; overloading the MFR will also result in a less homogenous mixed ration.
9.    Manage the feed kitchen properly. 
-    The feed kitchen should be kept clean to avoid crops getting mixed up in the feed kitchen. Plan this into your daily routines.
10.    If in doubt, or if you have any questions or comments, consult your local FMS advisor.
-    The local FMS advisors are trained in improving the mix result with the Vector by using methods such as the PennState Forage Separator 

A well mixed ration.


Utilizing the Lely Vector Automatic Feeding system to the maximum will provide a well-mixed ration for your cows. But in order to reach this goal, you must continuously consider, review and adapt both the settings and  management. If in doubt, or if you have any questions or comments, consult your local FMS advisor.