To the delight of some and dread of others, summer is almost officially here. In our dairy world, that means we’re preparing for heat-stressed cows and potentially a drop-off in herd milk production. A well-managed farm likely has measures in place to mitigate the effects of heat stress like sprinklers, fans, and curtains, but have you ever considered how automation might help lessen the heat’s impact?
The Lely Vector is Lely’s automatic feeding solution. The Vector feeds cows on a “feed to need” basis. What does that mean? The Vector has a laser pointed on the feed bunk. As it pushes up feed, it’s also measuring the height of the feed at the bunk. The farmer sets the average height of the bunk and when the bunk falls below that height, the Vector will feed. It also knows to place priority on groups, like milking cows versus dry cows. How does this correlate to heat stress? In the summer, we frequently see feed intakes drop. With the Vector, however, we see intakes drop off during the day, and pick back up at night. The Vector recognizes this time at night when the cows are eating and can continually deliver fresh, high-quality feed to the bunk to keep cows eating. Research shows the consistency of feed mix, feed availability, and dry matter intakes also provide more rumen stability which in turn is giving us higher fat content and reduced metabolic issues.
The Lely Juno feed pusher can also aid in keeping fresh feed in front of cows. The Juno has a feed-pushing skirt which acts to push up closer to the cows every hour. As the herd’s intake increases overnight, the Juno will ensure feed is within reach.
As we know, the Lely Astronaut allows cows the freedom to be a cow. In the summer, this may mean lying down in a comfortable spot during the day and milking in the cooler hours of the day. It’s not uncommon to see visits dip on a significantly hot day and catch up during the night. Gone are the days of standing in the holding area for hours on end while farmers desperately try to keep cows cool and comfortable. The cow can rest, drink, eat, and milk whenever she chooses to allow for healthier, better performing cows.
If you’re interested in how Lely Solutions fit on your farm, please reach out to Amos Fisher at 717-826-2679. If you want to learn more about Lely Solutions, check out Lely North America’s YouTube channel.