The Lely Vector automated feeding system can have a big impact on the health and welfare of dairy and beef animals. Lely Atlantic’s Customer Sales Support Derrick Davies explains the differences it can make.
Increasing the availability of food for dairy and beef cattle brings a range of benefits, explains Derrick Davies. “The Lely Vector will feed multiple groups of animals multiple times day and night, delivering different rations to groups as requested.
“The robot routinely visits each group and scans the feed available to know which group or pen needs feeding. During that time the mixing and feeding robot is also pushing up any feed for the animals so that it is presented well and fresh. It then alerts the feed kitchen which starts to prepare the rations which need topping up.”
This means that rather than one or two large deliveries of food the animals have their ration on a ‘little and often’ basis. Fresh food is always available, and rations are consistently accurate and well mixed, all of which can be difficult to achieve via conventional means, says Derrick.
“The hierarchy in the herd or different pens just disappears. As there is no sorting of feed every animal has consistent access to the complete ration.”
This approach is much better for rumen health, he continues. “Taking on a huge amount of feed in one go will affect the pH of the rumen. We have found that when feeding with the Vector the rumen doesn’t drop below 6 or 6.5 which is the ideal.
“This will ultimately have an impact on animal health and performance. I have visited beef farms in Italy and was blown away by the quality of their animals fed by the Vector,” he adds. “Stable feeding means good quality meat gradings down the line.”
A more stable rumen improves cow health more widely including fertility and by helping to avoid certain issues including acidosis, says Derrick. “Acidosis can be triggered by drops in pH and it does damage to the rumen. However around 26% of animals suffer from sub-clinical acidosis that is not detectable by behaviour, but the cow is still affected by it.
Improving access to food and the subsequent reduction in bullying not only improves welfare, but also reduces the likelihood of foot problems. “As all animals have better access to the ration at the feed fence the lower placed animals are not having to reach and lean as much, which is better for their feet,” explains Derrick. “That is one of the hidden costs of not automating.”
- Read the other part of our blog with Derrick which discusses the business and lifestyle benefits that Vector can bring: LINK.
- To explore the Lely Vector system further and access more resources visit: www.lely.com/gb/explore-vector-system/
Farmers can also contact their local Lely Center to discuss the benefits that the Lely Vector could bring their own farm set up.