Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz e.G. is a company in the eastern part of Germany employing in total nearly one hundred people. Thirty-four employees plus four students work on the dairy farm. The others work on the arable farm and in the public kitchen, garage and administration. The farm has over 4,400 acres of land and around 1068 animals. A new barn was put into operation in February 2013 including eight Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots. In 2014 a farm optimization event was organized together with Lely.
Although this newly built barn was well-thought-out, Lisa could see potential improvements in efficiency: for example, how to organize the various shifts more efficiently with improved working routines and less disturbance to the cows.
Before you can optimize, it is important to determine the starting point. By observing and writing down the daily routines of the employees you begin to see what they are doing, where they are walking, which actions they are performing, etc. This valuable information is then analyzed, categorized and prioritized into practical actions.
By lowering the frequency of fetching cows, adapting Lely T4C settings and changing working protocols, a direct positive result in terms of the number of milkings and refusals was seen. This result involves cows walking more frequently to the robot without being fetched. That is just one example. Lisa states that although the employees where a bit restrained at the start of the event, both the cows and the employees became a lot more relaxed. The result was also seen in the KPI of kg milk/hour of labour. Before the event 290 kg milk/hour of labor with 50 hours per week were milked. After the event 357 kg milk/hour of labor with 42 hours was achieved: a massive improvement.
According to Lisa, ‘it is quite an impact that you are faced with in terms of your own management on your own farm, but it is definitely worth it if you want to take the next step. Robotic milking fits all sizes of dairies, but the management and the employees make the difference. They have to work together and seek improvements all year long.’
Read also these tips
Management, T4C & InHerd, Cow health, Tips & Tricks
Why treatment plans?
Ensuring that animal health issues are dealt with effectively and that the labour involved in the treatment is efficient is very important, particularly as herd sizes become larger. Farms with an automatic milking system have an extra tool they can use to increase the effectiveness of the treatment, thereby decrease the effort of the farmer has to make to achieve the best results.