Why is it required to calibrate concentrates?

The main reason that motivates a cow to visit the Lely Astronaut milking robot is to collect her concentrate portion there. If the feed settings in T4C are correct, each cow will be fed the right portion. The milking robot and/or the Lely Cosmix concentrate feeder distribute the concentrate to the cow in a pre-set volume. In theory, every truck load of concentrate may differ in density due to its variation in ingredients. This could result in incorrect portions being fed to cows. If this happens, you will either underfeed or overfeed the cows.

Management, T4C & InHerd, Feeding

Why is it important to calibrate all the feeding equipment regularly?

Programming doses incorrectly may result in both overfeeding or underfeeding:

Overfeeding costs you money. Take, for example, a farm with 120 cows, where each cow consumes an average of 8.8 lbs of concentrate per day. A 5% deviation per feed portion is approximately equal to 19312 lbs of concentrate per year. As concentrate costs $0.23/lb on average, this adds up to $1,976 per year (figure 1). Plus, leftovers might be eaten by cows late in lactation which causes more busy time of the robot and the risk of overly fat cows being dried off. Finally, significant overfeeding may have an adverse effect on animal health.

Figure 1. Incorrect dosing of concentrates costs money. Concentrates density not only differs per feed type, but also within the same feed type.

Underfeeding affects the visit behavior of the cow and robot. Cows become restless during milking and are less motivated to visit the robot. It results in more attention cows that need to be picked up. So more labor for you. At the end the lbs of milk could be lower as well, affecting income.
Therefore, it is important to regularly check the settings and to calibrate the concentrates dispensed in the milking robots and/or Cosmix regularly.

Calibrating advice
Lely strongly recommends to calibrate the feed portion per feed type at least once a month, preferably after every new feed delivery. With two milking robots each including 2 feed types and one Cosmix including 2 feed types this means 6 calibrations.

How to calibrate?
Please consult the instruction in the:

1. Operator Manual:

Lely Astronaut A4

Lely Astronaut A3Next

Lely Astronaut A3

Lely Astronaut A2

2. ‘Your Guide’ section of T4C (via Settings, Feeding).
You can carry out a quick check: if, for example, you are feeding 551 lbs per day and 11,023 lbs of concentrate is delivered, the bulk should be empty in 20 days.

It is very important to calibrate the concentrate dispensed at the milking robot, and if present, the Cosmix, because over- and underfeeding influences cows’ health, visit behavior and costs money.