We have 3 questions from a robot farmer

We have 3 questions from a robot farmer

We got these three questions from a robot farmer in the USA. He asked them after doing our video program.

1. What are your thoughts on feed space per cow in a robot barn? (My experience has been especially with the feed pusher, if most of the cows want to eat at the same time with robots then I am feeding too late)

2. Do you have any experience with waterbeds? and What are your thoughts on them? We have waterbeds, and while they are not perfect I find them much better then mattresses

3. In robot barns, we never have that time where all the cows do the same thing at the same time, do you have percentages recommended for cows lying down/ waiting/eating/drinking/socializing for robot barns?

Who has some answers for him? We'll add our own thoughts later!

Comments (3)

Bernie Kamphof

Your barn sounds similar to mine. I have some of the same questions as you, and look forward to other answers.

I think a robot barn with a feed pusher allows a design with less feed space per cow than a traditional barn to work quite well. My barn has four rows of freestalls (head to head) and the feedbunk is along one side of the barn. There is only about 14" of bunk per cow at current stocking rates and I don't believe bunk space is a limiting factor. The Juno running every two hours is key though, and we never let the cows run out of feed. When a fresh batch is delivered the entire bunk is full, but a half hour later there is plenty of space, once the 'novelty' of the new feed has worn off.

My barn is equipped with waterbeds, and although I still think they were a good choice, they are not perfect. There are no hock lesions in my barn which is a big change from the mattresses we had in the old facility. Another of the benefits is the self draining nature of the mattress, which helps keep them clean and helps the robots milk clean cows. Some concerns I have are how well some cows have accepted the waterbeds (a few haven't) and I wonder if my cows are getting enough lying time.

I don't really have an answer for your third question, but am looking forward to some answers from others. With limited bunk space and waterbeds in my own barn I have wondered if the cows are spending enough time eating and laying.

Always looking to learn and improve!


Rafael Garcia

A little experience from our robot farms here in Brazil.
Question 1: Normally we project up to 3 rows barn, so, we have at least 55cm per cow in a robot barn. In the beginning the cows are learning and getting their routine, so, this can be trick, a lot of cows in the feed bunk, but after few months and a constant routine, the cow traffic adjust itself and there are plenty of space if the feed bunk is constantly with fresh feed.
Question 2: We don't have water beds around here, so..
There is no rule of thumb about this matter, but in the literature, the average is 50% lying down, max 10% in the waiting area, 20% eating in the feed table or feed stations, 10% drinking, 10 % socialising.

Joep Driessen

Thank you both for your reactions! Great to hear what your experiences are, we can learn a lot from each other.

To give some of our own suggestions:
1. We see the longest lifetime with 70 -75 cm feed space per cow also in Robot milking barns. Although they do not often all eat at same time, still up to 80% will come together...

In general more feed space means more meals per day (everybcow 12 meals per day is the goal) and less ruminal acidosis... Therefore longer healthier lives!

If you do NOT have this feedspace, you should feed the daily portion at 17.00 or later.... To ensure night intake of the weaker cows... Or buy a feed pusher that works at night...
So we advice to build 70 cm feed space per cow, also in a robot farm! ( best for long term health and gain..)

2. Fully agree with you on water beds: better than matresses, worse then sand/ deep straw beds. Cows always prefer deep beds with sand / straw or green bedding ( dried manure remnants). And have more resting time and less wounds!!

3. 3x milking and 12 x eating... 600 minutes chewing cut, thats what the best cows do! Robot barn cows are still cows... The only difference is that you not bother them twice a day for milking and forced standing for 2-4,8 hours a day... On a robot farm milking is only 3 x 7 minutes... Thats why cows on robot farms become more quiet , because they are not chased daily...and have more "spare time"

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