In my October 2019 blog post, I introduced Lely’s new Aftermarket Specialist team. I wrote of their focus, specialties and some of the various tools they have access to. One of the tools I mentioned is the VaDia, a vacuum diagnostics tool. I mentioned we were so impressed with the benefits of the tool, we were considering the purchase of one for our Lely Center.

Fast forward five months later and we are now enjoying the learning curve of having two of our very own VaDias. So far, we are using this tool at maintenance’s to help with the efficiency of graphing pulsators (it is such a time saver!). We are also using it to help troubleshoot some of our farms as well as looking at opportunities for improvement and efficiency gains on others.

On so many levels, the introduction of this tool has been so incredible. We are able to do our jobs faster. We are able to offer a higher level of detailed information and observation to our experienced farms. The VaDia works completely ‘standalone’ which enables us to forget about the actual measurement and concentrate on observing milk routines and cow behavior. We are able to catch settings that are off. We are able to view bimodal milk let downs. The VaDia is able to log vacuum at four points including pulsation, average vacuum at the teat end, and liner mouthpiece vacuum. We can identify the degree of overmilking. And the list goes on!

Screenshot of a VaDia milking event.

In this example, the blue line is the short milk tube. The green line illustrates the mouthpiece vacuum. The Y Axis is showing vacuum level (inHg), and the X axis is showing the time of the day (indicating milktime).

The width of the blue line indicates milk flow to us. This is an example of a wide blue line showing that this cow had a high milkspeed. We can see that the blue line (milk flow) started narrower, and the green line (mouthpiece vacuum) started a little high. This indicates a slow start for a cow (potentially needed more prep time). As the milk flow increases, the vacuum also drops in the mouthpiece. This shows the teat was able to create a seal in the barrel of the liner creating a better fit so no vacuum was escaping into the mouthpiece. Near the end of milking, you see the milk flow (blue) decrease, and mouthpiece vacuum (green) increase. This is where overmilking occurs. As a rule, we would like to see no more than 30 seconds of overmilking during the milking event.

It is important to keep in mind that this is only one quarter on one cow at one milking. The Lely Way is to milk the right cow at the right time the right way. We usually leave the VaDia on for the duration of several milkings and analyze each of those milkings to get an average and form conclusions based on multiple milking events.

From the data collected on this farm, we were able to see the interaction between pulsation and vacuum, allowing us to identify that pulsation dependent on milk flow and vacuum dependent on milk flow settings were on. We changed them to off. Based on multiple milkings with slow starts, we increased treatment time on this farm. Admittedly, the Dairyman and I were both nervous to do so because this farm averages 5% free time year-round. The results we have seen have been fantastic! Decreased boxtime, increase milk speed, decrease milk time, increase free time. Milk is up about two pounds per cow.

We are grateful for the support of Kira Andersen and the Lely AFS team to help teach us this tool, and are looking forward to using it on all our farms in the future!

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