Lewis Horning was one of our the dealerships early installations. His farm is ranked among the best Lely farms in all of North America and features one A3 robot.
Q. How long have you been milking with your A3 robot?
A. 7 years, going on 8!
Q. What made you decide to put robots in?
A. The reduction of labor drew us to the robots, as well as the flexibility that allows for more family time.
Q. In 2016, you were ranked #6 in North America and #23 globally for best milking robots, and #31 in North America and #45 globally for best milking cows. To what do you attribute your success?
A. I still wonder that myself! I’m not doing anything special. We do what needs to be done and we try to do a good job at it. I have to give my feed man credit. He came up with his own pellet at the beginning and we’ve been using it ever since. It does a good job getting the cows in and that goes a long way.
Q. You are arguably one of our most efficient farms. Today you are averaging 88.2lbs of milk, 3 visits, a 6:24 min boxtime, 8.5 lbs/minute of milkspeed, 9.2% freetime, and are milking 63 cows a day. How have you achieved this level of efficiency in your herd?
A. For years I have selected intensely for efficiencies when I breed cows. I probably started off more aggressive when I first started milking than I am now. For example, I look at milk speed closely. Fresh heifers who have a low milk speed or animals that have too many connection attempts and take too long will get culled. I also look at boxtime and multiply that by the amount of times she milks per day so I can see throughout an entire day how much time she is taking up in the robot. I consider anything with a boxtime greater than 12 minutes to be too slow.
Q. What advice would you give prospective farmers?
A. Don’t expect robots to be a silver bullet. It is a tool to help you manage your dairy better. If you plan to go on vacation all the time then robots are probably not a good option for you.
Q. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned managing a robotic dairy?
A. Let the cows do their thing and don’t try to control them as much. In the long run things will work out and get better quicker if you let them be and aren’t in the barn all day every day.
Q. What is your favorite report in T4C?
A. I would say report 21- Visit Behavior. I like to see who is at the top for production, who is the next cow I need to dry off etc. It’s nice to have all my information in one place on that report.