Cows adapt quickly to grazing

In 2013 Lely Farm Management Support commenced a research study involving 500 Dutch Astronaut farmers. 200 of these farmers put their cows to out to graze. Most of them− 40%−opened the barn doors in May. The study analyzed the effect of introducing grazing. A comparison was made between the month prior to the start of grazing, in which the cows were still indoors and the month in which grazing was introduced. The first month after the cows started to go to the pasture was also taken into account.

Management, Grazing, T4C & InHerd

A good grazing setup with automatic milking requires some specifications in order to ensure enough voluntary milkings. A selection gate like the Grazeway belongs to the basics. This selection gate steers the cow into the correct field or back into the barn. From the moment the cows started to go to the pasture the number of milkings only decreased by 2% to 2.56 milkings/cow/day (figure 1). These minor changes were caused by changes to both the distance between the robot and the pasture as well as the ration. The number of refusals, a monitor of good visit behavior, also decreased. They dropped from 3.4 to 2.7 refusals (Figure 1). The cows were still very motivated to visit the robot. So, although the introduction of grazing brought changes to visit behavior, good results were still achieved. It is important to understand how cows’ motivation to visit the robot changes. In an indoor system, cows are motivated by the concentrate fed in the robot. In a grazing system the palatability of the fresh grass can be used as motivator. The reward for visiting the robot is the chance to access a new field of fresh grass. 

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Figure 1.1
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Figure 1.2

If cows switch to a different ration, this will affect concentrate intake. One of the reasons for grazing is to fully utilize the high nutritional value of fresh grass and therefore reduce the amount of concentrate. The amount of concentrate per 100 kg milk decreased from 21 to 20 kg (Figure 2). On an average farm with 4000 kg milk/robot/day this means a saving of 40 kg of concentrate. That could reflect $11.42/day. The different visit behavior of the cows also responds in a slightly higher percentage of rest feed. This rest feed reflects the amount the cows were not able to eat. It does not mean leftovers in the feed bin. Pay attention to the cows that visit the robot less often and therefore have no opportunity to eat all their concentrates. 

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Figure 2.1
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Figure 2.2

You will notice that the visit behavior of the cows will change slightly when they are grazing. This is not necessarily a negative development, but it is important to keep an eye on the concentrates. Figure 2 shows a slight decrease in concentrates per 100 kg milk, along with an increase in the percentage of rest feed. Use the possibilities offered by fresh grass and adapt to the changes it might bring with regard to management. If you would like to know more, you can either find more information on grazing here, or you can contact your local Farm Management Support Advisor.

Lely Farm Management Support

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T4C 3.11 update

T4C & InHerd

T4C 3.11 update

As of June 2019, the roll out of T4C update 3.11 will start. This update contains new KPI’s of cow performance and rumination of lactating cows, new options in the routing settings, new Vector settings, new remark fields, an attention ‘suspect for abortion’ and new features for the grazing reporting. Since the roll out will start soon, it is good to know what the update entails. KPI for energy-corrected milk or milk solids To get a better insight into your cows’ performance, there is now a KPI available that shows milk yields, but with a correction for fat and protein content. There is a choice between three formulas, which are FPCM (fat- and protein-corrected milk), ECM (energy-corrected milk) or milk solids (sum of kg dry matter of fat and protein). These calculations are available as a KPI on the dashboard, but also on an individual-cow basis in the report generator. However, they are not enabled by default. On the ‘Global farm set-up’ page, you can choose which formula you would like to use. Routing: pause a scheduled routing On the ‘Daily entry’ page, a new action has been added called ‘Scheduled routing’. On this page, you see all the cows that currently have an active routing task based on a scheduled routing task. This gives you more insight into which cows are routed or ‘to be routed’ and why they are routed. In addition, you can pause these tasks. This could be useful, for example, when you want to skip hoof trimming for a day due to harvesting. Routing: only route after milking When treating a cow, it is often desirable to have a cow in the separation area with an empty udder. With Lely T4C 3.11 it is now possible to enable a setting that makes sure that routing tasks are only active when a cow is allowed to be milked. This could also prevent cows with full udders being in the separation area for longer periods. This functionality is also available for scheduled routing tasks. Lely Vector: enter ration in dry matter Lely Vector rations can also be entered in kg dry matter. This would be very useful when customers receive their ration in dry matter per cow from their feed advisors. Reproduction remarks In this update, the usage of the reproduction remarks is improved. There are now also remark fields available for the pregnancy check and calving actions. Rumination KPI for lactating cows only Usually the rumination activity KPI is used to analyse the rumination of the part of the herd that is currently in lactation. However, since this KPI also includes dry cows and young stock, there is now also a KPI that shows only the average for the cows that are in lactation.   ‘Suspected miscarriage’ attention If a pregnant animal has shown serious heat signs since the last positive pregnancy test, she is shown on report 34 – Reproduction check with the remark ‘Suspected miscarriage’. Grazing report This new report shows the grazing per cow. The time is calculated from the moment she is routed to a grazing destination until she is recognised again by another device. Related to this same data, there is now also a grazing report for all the lactating cows.