Increasing feed intakes has never been easier
Ben Rab says his Juno feed pusher is one of the most indispensable pieces of kit on the farm. “It’s guaranteed 24/7 to keep fresh feed in front of the cows, it consistently keeps working and it’s contributing to an extra one litre per head per day. In fact, it’s a no brainer; the Juno is a relatively simple piece of kit that’s cost effective to buy and we reckon that extra yield covered will cover its the cost within 18 months.
“Intakes have increased; the cows are eating on average an extra 2.0kg to 3.0kg a head per day freshweight - that’s around 4% more. Getting that extra energy in to them which makes for a healthier functioning rumen and more productive, happy cows,” explains Ben who together with his wife, Fiona manages a 120-cow pedigree Holstein herd near York, currently averaging 13,000 litres.
“We feed out twice a day the semi-TMR, a grass and maize silage mix with homegrown cereals. Whilst the cows push the feed away from the trough, the Juno pushes it back within their reach and is programmed to push our two feed passages 12 times a day. The robot periodically goes back to the dock to recharge. Running costs are minimal.”
When the Juno approaches, the cows are drawn to the feed passage. The full trough reduces reaching so there is less pressure on necks and front claws, and since the feed is being regularly pushed up, it provides an equal opportunity for each one, including the lower yielding and shyer cows.
Ben says: “If we hadn’t invested in the Juno, then we would have been pushing feed up at least three times a day with a front-end loader and tyres. I anticipate it would have taken an hour each day, and cost us in fuel and depreciation. However, it’s one of those jobs that simply wouldn’t have got done in the evening and through the night, and again, it’s back to consistent management.
The Rabs say the Juno perfectly complements their two A5 robotic milking systems. “Cows are creatures of habit and robots can be programmed to respond, so much so that I believe that high yielding cows and robots go hand in hand, if you want to exploit that potential and accompanying gains,” says Ben adding: “However good you are as a stocksperson, you can’t provide the consistent service delivered by a robot.”