Sven Klingemann and his family own a farm in Schneeren – Neustadt, Germany with 145 Holstein Frisian milking cows (inclusive dry cows). In December 2010 they started milking with two Lely Astronaut A3 Next milking robots. In the future they want to expand the farm with another 2 milking robots. Less physical space and workload were the two main reasons to opt for automation. At this moment Sven and his father are working full time on the farm. Sven’s wife and his mother are both working less than 50% on the farm. In addition there are also two trainees, but they also go to school. On the farm they make active use of milk temperature in T4C, which is a measure for the body temperature of the cow.
The farm of Andreas Wirths is located in Engelskirchen, Germany. In 1997 he took over the farm with 70 milking cows. In 2011 they started with robotic milking. With the Lely Astronaut A4 milking robots the working times became more flexible and Andreas has more time for the family. Nowadays they house 110 red and black Holstein Frisian milking cows. Andreas works full time on the farm with an employee. Within the management he makes use of the milk temperature to monitor the health of the cows, as it is a good value for the body temperature of the cow.
The management is focused on block calving. Between August and December all the cows calf. This means that in summer the farmer is less busy with calvings and inseminations. This gives him the possibility for holidays with the family and not having to pay attention to this. So a farm worker can more easily take over the farm. Also, the farmer claims to have fewer problems with the heat during summer when no inseminations and calvings have to take place then.
Usage of milk temperature in farm management
In daily management, Andreas and Sven make both use of the milk temperature to find out which cows would need attention. Sven checks visually the cow when the temperature reaches or exceeds 1040F and 1030F for cows in the start of lactation. Trends in milk temperature are only monitored for cows which already have Sven his attention. Andreas uses an overall threshold of 39.50C for the whole herd. Both farmers state that next to the milk temperature values like weight, daily milk yield and the milk yield deviation are taken into account before going into action.
The milk temperature is integrated in certain T4C reports which Sven monitors daily. In case of cows with mastitis attentions, Sven checks the milk temperature twice a day. “ Cows with mastitis are not per definition found earlier with the use of milk temperature, but it is used as an extra piece of the puzzle to find out what is going on with the cow”, according to Sven.
For ketosis and acidosis it is the other way around. Sven checks milk temperature and combines it with other parameters like milk yield deviation, conductivity and color to verify if the cow needs a visual check. Sven states: “A blood test will confirm if the cow has acidosis or ketosis. We do find more cows with ketosis and acidosis and we find them also earlier when he makes use of milk temperature”.
In case of a mastitis attention, the milk temperature in T4C is always checked by Andreas as a confirmation whether the cow certainly has mastitis or not. “With the use of milk temperature I find more cows with mastitis, because in general I first see a rise in milk temperature and one milking later the cow also has a mastitis attention.” In case of ketosis and acidosis Andreas makes more use of the deviation in the weight of the cows instead of milk temperature. “After calving the milk temperature can be low, but I monitor this closely” says Andreas. ” Especially in case of a retained placenta, the trend of the milk temperature is monitored for about two weeks.”
Routine in T4C
Sven and Andreas are checking the milk temperature of attention cows twice a day. They are looking for information about the cows which have a deviation in milk yield and about their milk temperature, days in lactation, number of milkings, daily milk yield and the time of the last milk visit. “ I start from here and then go to the cow card to find more specific information about this cow, to find out if she needs my attention.” according Sven. Also Andreas uses milk temperature in T4C to check whether there is something going on with the cows. “Besides my custom report I make use of standard report 12 - Udder Health Work List to find my attention cows” notes Andreas.
“Making use of milk temperature in my daily management did not save veterinarian costs,” says Sven, “but labor-wise it did.” “Before we started to milk with the milking robots, the temperature was measured daily of all cows in the first 20 days in lactation. Nowadays the robots save time by doing this every day automatically.”
Also Andreas notes the temperature indicator is cost saving on his farm. “I detect the cows which need my attention earlier. I’m able to directly act upon this, which results in a smaller drop in milk production for example. The earlier I detect those cows, the greater the benefit of using milk temperature.”
What can we learn?
”For me, using milk temperature is very valuable.” states Sven. “I really like it and use it in combination with other parameters. I would definitely miss this milk temperature if it wouldn’t be there anymore.”
Andreas confirms this: “I can only recommend using milk temperature. I can’t imagine that someone would not make use of it. I detect ‘attention cows’ earlier using milk temperature”.
On the question when not to use it both farmers answer individually equally. “During winter we can work very good with the milk temperature, but during summer the milk temperature is already higher for more cows. Then it is less often used. Also for cows which have a milk yield less than 10 kg, it is less usable.“
Lely Farm Management Support
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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.