Astronaut is the complete cow management tool
Currently milking their herd through 3 Lely Astronaut robots, Greg and Amy’s herd is made up of 200 Friesian cows, of which approximately 50% are spring calvers and the rest 50% are autumn calvers. Greg states “the reason behind going with the robot idea is that I’ve been on concrete now for 25 years and I decided another 20 years on concrete just isn’t healthy. But the robots are so much more than reducing the physical, repetitive work on the body. We can see that this is a complete farm and cow management tool, where we have the flexibility to structure our day to a point, rather than working around milking times”. The previous 24 aside Herringbone milking system on the Schnell property had cup removers and Greg states he was happy with this system, but the decision to fill the pit and look ahead to the future was made and now this happy duo are certainly not looking back. The 2018-19 season achieved 1000kg/MS per hectare.
With the guidance of Lely Center Manawatu Amy and Greg made the decision to transition their cows to the robots over an 8 week period as calving took place. With between 2-6 cows on average to train a day and with beautifully quiet cows the transition went smoothly from the get go. Amy states “I’ve been really impressed with how quick the cows have adjusted to the system. They’re very happy cows. Our very first night after training we were impressed with how it had gone and then in the first week when we had 7 cows come in overnight it was just celebration time all around. We could actually see that this system was going to work, and now most of the herd come through the night between 10 pm – 3 am”.
Utilising the ABC pasture management system, the Lely ABC grazing system, cows alternate between three races within a 24 hour period, meaning less pressure on pasture and more recovery time for paddocks between grazing’s. Cows are offered the incentive of meal being fed through the robot each time they visit, which encourages them to be milked more often and then move onto a new pasture allocation.
Greg is finding that with having robots it is much easier to manage his pasture and that his paddocks aren’t being chewed down as hard, as they were on the previous system. Greg says that “by being able to manipulate where the cows are going to go and how they’re going to graze is a really handy tool”.