The escalating cost of feed – and all farm inputs – is encouraging dairy farms to scrutinise Milk from Forage, with many looking at the possibilities of grazing. Having spent seven years working in Ireland, Lely’s Addi Kidson has first-hand experience of how it can work alongside robotic milking and is keen to share that experience with farms in Britain.
“Grass is the cheapest food source for cows and a natural source of nutrition that cows enjoy.” Addi also believes that public perception is that grazing is preferable and higher welfare. “Some European countries are now making it compulsory for cows to spend some time grazing grass.”
Get it right and the rewards include improved returns from higher milk constituents and smaller feed bills, says Addi. “But it does require careful consideration and management. Quality of grass is absolutely key and variety will play a part in that. It needs to be the right variety or mix for your land and the output required. You also need to balance what your cows are getting in the field with what’s in the shed.
“Some farmers worry about maintaining yield when grazing, but I believe that if well planned and managed it absolutely is possible.”
When a farmer is interested in a grazing system with robotic milking, the first questions they usually ask are whether it would work on their farm, she continues. “We then ask them a few questions about their land and setup. How viable is their grazing in relation to their shed? How accessible is the grazing block and how many groups are there in the herd?”
The next step would be a site visit. “We discuss the proposal with all parties including the farm manager and other Lely experts,” explains Addi. “At this stage we would have a basic plan for implementing a grazing system and where the Lely Astronaut and Grazeway would be placed.” Put simply the Grazeway is an automatic separation gate, but is the key to unlocking grazing as it acts as the gateway between robot and grazing blocks. It may seem daunting, but the Lely team has experience to help customers through the planning process.
“Once the customer has decided they would like to go ahead, the detailed work begins. We would design a grazing plan outlining everything including paddock layout and infrastructure. The Farm Management Support team would also start work on other aspects such as the design and layout of the shed.
“As with all our installations the local Lely Centers provide full support to customers through the whole set up process, and that support is continuous. ” she says.
“I’m really passionate about grazing, so it is really exciting to see more enquiries coming in from farms looking to graze their cows, especially when combined with other automated solutions. We welcome enquiries from anyone wanting to explore the possibilities grass can bring.”
- To discuss how grazing and robotic milking could work for you, contact your local Lely Center
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