Why Smart Feeding pays off

Accuracy and consistency are what is needed in the nutrition world to achieve maximum output and health standards, it is not uncommon to see three different rations on farms. One that is formulated by the feed advisor for each group of animals, another one for what is dispensed at the feed fence and the other one is what the animals consume. Rations can be altered by human intervention, equipment error or the cows sorting feed. When human intervention is removed from the equation, it results in accuracy and consistency. Most farms with automated feeding systems achieve an accuracy of 95% to 99%, meaning the ration that is called for on paper is accurately delivered at 95% plus accuracy all day, every day. With having such accurate live data, you can rest assured that what has been formulated and advised is actually being delivered.

Cow health, Feeding


Here are the top 3 principles that guide automated feeding:

1. Healthy cows should feed between 8 and 12 times a day

Feeding more frequently stimulates animals and creates a more stable environment in the rumen, so it benefits animal health, fertility and usually production. It is also seen to be a driver in more visits to the Robotic milker.

The bacteria present in the cow’s rumen break down feed particles and release valuable nutrients to the cow. In order to multiply and ferment enough feed, the bacteria themselves require a constant diet of sufficient energy and protein. The more frequently feed is put out the more consistent the environment for the bacteria and the better they thrive.  

When cows are fed consistently and in smaller portions throughout the day, the PH level in their rumen has a lower chance of dropping. This considerably reduces the risk of subclinical ruminal acidosis (SARA).

More frequent feeding will not only provide your cows with a constant supply of fresh feed, it will also reduce the competition for feed. This gives lower-ranked animals in your herd a fairer chance to eat enough well-formulated and mixed ration. 

2. Different feeding types ferment in different ways

Some energy sources like sugars degrade easily, while others take longer. It is important to pay special attention to a cow’s ration so it will last the correct amount of time.

The energy that the cow can digest from the feed comes from similar sources to humans; carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre. In ruminants it is bacteria that break these down rather than human stomachs. We engineer rations so that bacteria can break these foods down effectively and at a certain rate. The speed that food goes through the rumen is as important as the energy we provide. If it goes too fast the bacteria don’t get a chance to digest it fully and if too slow the energy is lost to the bacteria rather than the cow. We mix rations to break up large fibrous sources like straw to make them more available for the bacteria and we engineer the ration to be a balance of energy providing materials.

3. Tailor made rations make all the difference

Delivering a tailor-made ration is paramount to success, Lely Vector makes this happen to the highest degree every time. Pre-set dietary information ensures that the Vector will feed every cow accurately and according to their specific growth stage or milking cycle. 

Using these smart feeding principles ensures that the feed is delivered to the cow as easily digestible as possible.

The Lely Vector

Lely’s top feeding solution, the Vector, implements a high-level feeding strategy that abides by a smart feeding principle: offering your cows fresher feed more frequently. Fully automated, it independently collects, mixes, distributes and pushes all your feed, day and night. You can define exactly the right ingredients needed to feed each group of animals, including beef cattle. This has a positive influence on feed efficiency, and the development and production of your animals.

It is not just good for your cows. With the Lely Vector in action, you can:

  • Increase productivity: more visits to the milking Robots. With healthier animals, it usually results in better fertility and better mobility of the animals to encourage natural animal behavior.
  • Save on labour costs, but allow for more time to be spent doing other tasks that contribute to the performance and health status of the animals.
  • Reduce the consumption of fuel used on the farm.
  • Reduce your farm’s carbon footprint by reduced fuel usage.

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