Starting up your Lely robots is one of the most crucial steps to long-term successful robotic milking. Follow these three steps and you will be on the fast track to a problem free start-up.
1. Know T4C
I always tell our customers I want them to be an expert in T4C before start-up so that when the day comes, the only thing they are worried about is pushing cows. Ask questions. Make reports. Enter data like sires, medicines, and treatment plans into your libraries. The more information you enter, the more mistakes you will make and the more you will learn. Likewise, the more you enter, the more questions you will have and the more you will learn. I understand all those reports will look weird with no information in them, but the day the Lely Center leaves the start-up and you are alone to figure it out, you will have a much better grasp on T4C than if you did not put in the work ahead of time.
2. Prep Your Cows
Arguably one of the most important steps of start-up is preparing your cows. Cows should all be up-to-date on hoof trimming. Any cows with sore feet should be treated as best as possible. All udders should be singed, and tails should be trimmed. These steps give the cows the most comfortable experience at first milking. A positive first milking ensures long-term success. If it is possible with your barn setup and you can pretrain cows, you should. Over the years we have seen a night and day difference between farms that pretrain cows and farms that do not. Giving the cows the opportunity to get into the robot, eat some grain, and hear some noise before they get milked makes them much easier to get into the robot and much calmer during their first milking. If I had just one tip to give someone to make start-up easier, it would be to pretrain their cows.
3. Plan Your People
It is important to have people commit to a timeframe to be at the farm during start-up. Without a structured timeframe and start-up schedule, you will end up with too much help during the day and not enough during the night. You want people who are familiar with cows, and more importantly, gentle with cows. Any pokers, shockers, sticks etc. have no place at start-up. The goal is to keep cows calm and give them a good experience. It is up to you to make sure that happens. It goes without saying that you should have plenty of coffee and snacks on hand for all the good help you have, which allows you to get a couple hours of sleep during start-up week!
Follow these three steps and ensure you have a successful start-up. Best of luck to all the dairy men and women out there excited to begin living life Lely in 2021!