T4C management system

Lely often states that the introduction of the milking robot has not only automated milking but that it has changed overall management on dairy farms as well. The milking robot's management program provides extensive information, allowing you to make better management decisions sooner. Thanks to the robot you collect a massive amount of data on milk, behavior and, hence, on the health of your cows. By introducing the latest version of its T4C (Time for Cows) management program, Lely now makes a next move.

Management, T4C & InHerd

A new look at results

Data is turned into information by the Lely Astronaut's management program in a manner that makes you a unique operator in the dairy business. The newest T4C version, available from December 2009, provides more information, particularly in the shape of combined attentions, ensuring an outstandingly user-friendly presentation of data.

Key Performance Indicator

We have therefore opted in the newest version of T4C to present the most crucial parameters as Key Performance Indicators on a dashboard. This allows you to overview all data at a glance so that you can see right away which cows need your special attention. Lely has currently defined up to 20 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Number of milkings per cow

The number of milkings per cow is an important KPI to monitor farm performance. In figure 1 you will see that the indicator in the figure is pointing in the green area, meaning that the average number of milkings is over 2.5. It shows an average milking of 2.8 over the last 24 hours; the average of the past 7 days (2.7) is also shown, in brackets. However, the red dot on the screen indicates that one of the groups has fewer milkings. By clicking on the red dot it is possible to see the milkings per individual group (please refer to figure 2). You can see that robot 103 has too few milkings. By clicking on the report ´milking – visit behavior´ a report at individual cow level is shown. So with just a few mouse clicks, the cows causing the exception can be located. Among other things, the dashboard provides quick tools to gain ready-to-use knowledge about the actual performance of the herd. They allow you to intervene quickly when critical points of attention are recognized.

Fat / protein rating

A rating of fat and protein content is now provided every day as opposed to the feedback that you receive from your dairy control, 4 to 6 weeks later. This information specifies these contents not only per cow but for the herd as well. Every milking the milk is analyzed allowing you to react much sooner to changes, if any. Thus you secure your milk surcharge while at the same time you are able to identify acidosis/ketosis at an early stage. This results in a healthier herd, lower veterinary costs as well as reduced costs for milk control due to a lower number of checks. The rating is based upon the 5 last milkings (in case of milk control, usually upon 2 milkings).

Even more accurate mastitis detection

A survey among users of the Lely Astronaut milking robot, carried out by students of the In Holland College in the Netherlands has shown that 82% of the attentions for mastitis are correct. Lely strives for a 100% reliability. Since the Lely Astronaut robot is the only robot that pulsates per quarter, ensuring that each quarter is properly milked out, the above-mentioned survey has also shown that the number of mastitis cases has dropped with 75%. Due to the new MQC and the upgraded T4C version, sensitivity for mastitis detection has been increased to a level that is well over 90%; reliability of attentions has even surpassed 99%. To that effect, calculations and measurements have been further refined and improved, including a combination of signals for conductivity, color, milk yield per quarter as well as dead milking times. All relevant signals are presented in one single, transparent attention.

Detection of watery milk

Watery milk is seen as an important indication of coming diseases. It may be a signal that an E.coli infection is starting. The acute inflammation reaction that E.coli evokes necessitates immediate action; only then is there a good chance of recovery. If watery milk is detected, a clear attention is provided within the new T4C. The dairy farmer can make a presetting for standard separation of watery milk.

Improved attentions for weight fluctuations

The weighing floor in the Lely Astronaut milking robot has a double function; it not only establishes the starting position of the arm before each milking, but it also weighs cows prior to every milking. So far, this information was presented as an objective row of figures on weights and attentions and were primarily provided for cows showing (too) noticeable weight fluctuations within a short space of time (our own research has shown that the attention for weight loss as a result of sickness is now generated three days earlier; in addition, reliability has been improved!). The new software also considers the gradual progress of weight and the relation to initial weight, allowing you, as a dairy farmer, to act quickly in case of major loss of weight. In addition, cattle advisors can increase their insight in the cows’ rations in order to ensure an improved condition at the start of lactation.

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T4C reproduction module

Production, health and reproduction are the main parameters affecting overall herd performance on dairy farms. The addition of a reproduction module in the Lely T4C management system enables Lely to present you with an easy tool to manage and/or improve reproductive performance in a cost-effective way. 

The module is available as a separate pay-module within T4C. In addition to management information on reproduction, it contains new exciting functionalities such as automatic heat registration, automatic pregnancy detection, an insemination feedback tool and prediction of calving moment (depending on type of Qwes-tags). These new functionalities can be activated/deactivated as desired. 

Management information on reproductive performance

Within the reproduction module, a herd overview report displays all key reproductive parameters. To diagnose and analyze trends, data is presented for comparing a “last period” (last 30 days or last quarter) to a “reference period” (last quarter, last year or a self-defined reference value). Changes between the last period and the reference period are indicated by arrows, allowing for a quick evaluation of recent performance.

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Figure 1: View of the starting page of the reproduction module displaying an overview of the different reproduction parameters and their trends

Additional graphs and reports provide relevant information at herd and cow level to evaluate reproductive performance, analyze trends and take management decisions/actions. For example, the report “cow actual status” displays the current reproductive status of an animal in conjunction with days in lactation and milk yield (please refer to figure 2).

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Figure 2: Graph “cow actual status” displaying the reproductive status of a cow in conjunction with days in lactation and milk yield