Each start-up is unique. Barn design, herd behavior and statistics, and even dairymen behavior, all influence the various challenges and benefits to start-up. However, there is one thing all start-ups have in common. That is, the awkward “end” of start-up. The point in time when we transition from pushing all cows in groups to the robot, to fetching singular cows off the collect cow list. According to Lely’s standard operating procedure, this transition should happen when 75% of cows are coming to the robot themselves. It is not always that easy. Oftentimes I see this happen when the exhaustion sets in around day 6 and the dairyman says, “heck with it” and goes to bed. When he or she returns to the barn and sees handfuls of cows have visited, they begin to use the fetch cow list. No matter when it happens, it can often be an uncomfortable transition for farmers who go from a structured environment of pushing every cow through, to understanding how to best use the collect cow list. So, you made it through start-up, now what?
The most straightforward way to use the collect cow list is to sort by the time away. We recommend fetching all cows who have not visited the robot in 12 hours. If you have the time, you can begin to cherry pick from there. The interval exceed column tells you how far over her allowed interval she is. For easy math, if she is allowed into the robot every 8 hours and hasn’t visited in 16 hours, her interval exceed would be 200. The collect cow list also shows day production. I am pickier getting a 100lb cow into the robot more often then I am a 50lb cow. Lactation days, failures, and milk yield expected would also factor into your decision making when you begin to fetch cows who are less than 12 hours out. Remember, there is a balance that needs to be kept in mind. You do not want to fetch animals too often and train them that you are the only way to get into the robot. Varying frequency and timing of fetching can help with this.
Once you have mastered the collect cow list, you are going to begin exploring other reports. With the help of your farm management support (FMS) specialist, you should already be familiar with T4C and what these reports look like. A few of your early favorite reports will likely be the health report, failures, visit behavior and robot efficiency report. This is a great time to have a team meeting with your nutritionist and your FMS specialist to get your herd off to the best possible start. Before you know it, you’ll have cows visiting the robot more and more regularly, you’ll be getting more comfortable with T4C, you’ll have a great team surrounding you, and you are well on your way to living life Lely.
Interested in robots? Now is a great time to get started. See here for Lely’s big promotion celebrating their 5000th robot installation!