Back in October Sales and FMS were fortunate to visit Eastern Germany to learn about all things Dairy XL. To those unfamiliar with the term dairy XL, this describes a farm with 8 robots or above of which we visited three XL size Farms during our trip.

Back in October Sales and FMS were fortunate to visit Eastern Germany to learn about all things Dairy XL. To those unfamiliar with the term dairy XL, this describes a farm with 8 robots or above of which we visited three XL size Farms during our trip.

Ruppendorf

The first ‘Ruppendorf’, was home to 21 Lely Astronauts milking around 1100 cows averaging 12000 kg per lactation with a 30 % reproduction rate.  Previous to the introduction of robots in 2012, a rotary parlour was milking 22.5 hours per day.  Fitting comfortably into the existing barn built in 1976, the Astronauts have reduced labour on farm and created a better working environment for staff and cows a like. The beauty of this system was that cows were ran in groups of 142 per three robots, with this modular approach attention to detail was still paramount to operations. All concentrates were made on farm with a minimum of 1.5 kg and maximum of 6kg fed in the robot.  Moving forwards this farmer was content with yield but now concentrating on improving the reproduction rate. Also the farm has started to trial feeding less concentrate to cows at start of lactation to increase forage consumption to improve cow’s rumen function.

Hasslau

The second farm ‘Hasslau’ was a contrast of new and old, with 650 cows averaging 36 litres per day on 10 robots. For 21 years this farm had been milking robotically starting with A2’s and now home to 2 Lelys A4’s and  8 Lely A5’s, the farmer explained how his farm is a ‘grower’, increasing by 0.5 robots per year. Significant investment on farm was clear to see with the existing barn from 1989 being joined by a new milking, calf and calving barn in 2019. As well as a Juno and Discovery, Cow Locator has been an addition to the system which has proved invaluable to the 6 employees on the dairy side of the business. Cow locator has been installed on farm for the last 18 months and works with several receivers mounted around the barn, in contact with the cows’ tags. The receivers in turn communicate with Lely T4C. In this way the Lely Cow Locator shows the cows’ position with only a few clicks in InHerd, accurate to within 1 meter. This has saved the farmer 20 minutes on each vet visit not having to find cows. One variable that has been measured over the years at Hasslau is box time. The farm has noticed from 1.4 kg milk per minute in 1998, cows are now producing 3kg milk per minute currently, selective breeding on milk speed has contributed to this.

Wesenitztal

‘Wesenitztal’ Farm was our last destination, a farm milking 500 cows who had recently installed a Lely Vector feeding system. Over the first 12 months of this twin tub system being in operation the farmer estimated a saving of over €10,000 just in fuel. Through fresh, consistent feeding and feed pushing the herds yield increased by 700 kg per cow per year. With the addition of the Lely Vector, 700 hours of labour have been saved along with 20 % less concentrates being fed. This farm demonstrated phenomenal results from automated feeding with robotic milking possibly the next step.   

Overall the take home message from this trip was with correct process, management strategy and attention to detail, whether you milk 60 cows or 600 cows you can make marginal gains which over time will pay dividends to farmer and cow. Now we are back fuelled with our findings we aim to put this into practise with our farmers.

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