Read this quick review of different tabs and reports to help monitor your production. Whether your goal is kilograms or pounds of solids versus liters or pounds of milk, examine the following:
- Average Days in Milk – Work to keep them between 160 and 180 days. A solid reproductive program and plan with your herd veterinarian can help ensure cows are bred and rebred on time, and smooth out your calvings.
- “My Reports” Section – You should have a folder for production reports, with one being Days in Milk 1 to 100 (added by your dealer herd management support):
a. Determine what percent of your herd is in this category. Aim for 30 to 35 percent consistently.
b. Find percentage of 1st lactation animals. If you have a 40 percent culling rate, then 40 percent of your herd will be 1st lactation. Depending on your heifer program, the first 100 days should be approximately 12 percent 1st lactation heifers. If you have issues with your heifer program (lack of heifers) or you are producing more heifers (sexed semen), then you may be much lower or higher. Remember, if you calved out a high number of 1st lactation heifers, this will influence your monitor board numbers.
- You should have a report (like above) for 101 to 200 days in milk and 201 days plus. If 50 percent or more of the herd is 201 days plus, you may be struggling to achieve your goals and targets. The biggest challenge occurs if more than 40 percent of the herd is 201 days plus and 50 percent or more are open. It is very important to get on a plan with the feed advisor to look at the transition cow program, as ketosis and body condition are huge factors in influencing reproduction.
- Lactation Curves – It is important to understand the differences between the 1st lactation and 2nd lactation curves
- In the chart above, you can see the greatest amount of milk is produced between 30 and 100 days. The goal is to have a dry cow program and environment that leads to minimal number of calving issues and transtion cow issues. This is important in order for cows to peak. 1st lactation heifers do not have a peak like a cow, and are far more persistent. It is important to ensure they are climbing in milk production because if they have issues in the first month, they will persist at a much lower level. 1st lactation heifers should peak at 80 percent of the cows in the herd – one area that robotic farmers can improve upon.
- The average number of milkings for cows is easily three or more on almost all robotic farms. However, many robotic farmers are leaving the heifers alone after the heifer comes into the robot on her own. You can see from this graph that they do not reach 3 times. You may think the heifers are producing well enough without coming three times per day (39 kg or 86 lbs). However, in three times a day milking in a parlour, the heifers would hit the 80 percent of the milking cow production (41 kg or 89 lbs). How to work towards heifers producing 80 percent:
a. Make sure the heifer comes three times before you leave her alone. It is crucial in free flow to consume the pellet ration, and in milk first, it is important to get the bump in milk.
b. Many farmers are concerned about fetch cows. However, calving out the heifer and having a set protocol in the first 14 days helps to create an envrionment for her to go three times. (We will explore this topic in greater detail in another newsletter).
c. Once you are three VMS or more, consider separating 1st lactation from 2nd lactation plus cows, depending on your barn design.
Key tips to hit your production targets:
- Keep your finger on “new late cows”.
- Be proactive with health issues.
- Monitor the first 100 days in milk and break it down further into the first 30 days. Your dealer support can help you with this.
- Determine the percentange of heifers in your herd and in the first 100 days
- Ensure your pregnancy rate is greater than 21 percent
- Work toward days in milk between 160 and 180
Future articles will discuss fresh heifer and cow training protocols and the role of the PMR in the success of robotic milking.