Retrofitting dairy barn to robotic milking – is simply adding an AMS unit enough?

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14
October

When retrofitting your dairy facility to robotic milking, a farmer must remember to start by defining goals for the project and re-think their daily management routines. Keep reading to find out more about the questions you need to ask yourself before starting the dairy barn retrofit project.

Changing a milking system into a robotic milking is a viable opportunity for many dairy operations to get everyday work to be less physical and time-bound. Milking in a tied stall or a parlor is also very labor-intensive and getting good people to farm work is not easy, so AMS´s to do the job is an obvious choice. Fewer hours working with the same or even better production. Who wouldn’t want that!

Is adding the robotic milking equipment enough?


When a dairy producer starts to think about the change to milking robots, he or she often starts to plan a good place for the machinery in the existing milking cow facility: “If only robot placement could be solved, turning into robotic milking would be easy.” That’s where we in 4dBarn often meet the farmers. They want to hear our opinion and the big question is: where do I place the milking robots?


Take a step back from AMS unit placement


What we first ask our customers, is: What are your goals in retrofitting your existing barn with milking robots - is it a certain milk production level? Or better labor efficiency?

What are your goals in retrofitting your existing barn with milking robots?

4dBarn has measured labor efficiency in robotic farms and for example, two robot facilities produce an average of 465 liters of milk in on labor hour. In that figure, labor hour is an hour of routine work with all animal groups and their feeding. The best one's efficiency is double that and the least efficient ones are less than half of the average. Where do you want to be?

A Renovation project is an excellent time to up-date your farm’s transition cow management
A renovation project is an excellent time to update your farm’s transition cow management

 

Rethink your dairy barn management


The next thing to consider is: what does it take in my day-to-day dairy barn management to get the kind of results I want? We have seen in our projects that by renovating an existing barn one can achieve as good results as in a new facility, but with a smaller investment.

What does it take in my day-to-day dairy barn management to get the kind of results I want?

So, it is possible to set your goals high and achieve them! But it takes more than just dropping an automatic milking machine or two into your barn. In a dairy barn retrofit project you are going to change your milking method but to reach the goals you have, you have to also change your management and way of working in your dairy barn.

An example of an often very time-consuming work is getting milk from a cow´s udder to a calf's mouth. How can you do that in a robot barn, 2-3 times a day in an effective and standardized way to full fill the needs of baby calves? Another example is fresh cow management, which has a huge impact on the productivity of the cows and also the workload of the people. Now is the time to update your routines and have a VIC-pen for your fresh cows, for example.


4dBarn coaches the farmer through the facility design process

4dBarn helps dairy farmers to ask the right questions to create a perfect, complete puzzle out of all the big and small management choices there is to choose from. Our coaching methods help you to visualize the possibilities that didn’t seem to be there at all. And when the dairy facility renovation is completed, you are ready to use your new robot barn efficiently and with the right working routines. All benefiting you, your employees, and your cows!

Virpi Kurkela Veterinary specialist 4dBarn
Virpi Kurkela
Veterinary specialist 4dBarn
“Cows make me tick <3”