Rules of thumb for robotic milking

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Rules of thumb for robotic milking cows – are actually for all milking cows!

There are a number of rules of thumb which can be useful to benchmark and understand if your herd sits within these. Firstly we should remember what are the cows needs:

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What do cows want?

  1. The right space for her size and yield – feeding and resting space
  2. Good quality air
  3. Fresh, clean water
  4. Good quality feed
  5. Light – ideally 160-200 lux for 16-18 hours per day
  6. Rest – closely linked to space and a comfortable bed

Rules of thumb for peak yield

  • On average a cow will reach its peak litres at 45 – 90 days in milk.
  • We target 40 – 60 Days in Milk (DiM).
  • A 2nd lactation animal will peak at 90% of a mature cow.
  • A heifer will peak at 70 – 75% of a mature cow.
  • Peak yield of a cow can be quite reliably predicted.
  • Multiply the average daily yield between days 10 & 14 after calving by a known factor.
    (Factor = for heifers x 1.1 & for cows x 1.2 - x 1.4)
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How long should she stay at peak yield?

  • Cows should stay at peak yield (within 1 litre/day) for a minimum of 7 weeks.
  • If the peak only lasts for 4 weeks, there is a problem.
  • Yield will decline from peak at approximately 2% per week.
  • 1 extra litre at peak is worth 280 litres/lactation.
  • On average a cow will reach its Peak Dry Matter Intake (DMi) at week 16 (112 to 120 DiM).
  • We would target 10 – 12weeks (70 to 85 DiM).

If your herd does not fall in and around the rules of thumb numbers then consider where the blockers are as this will be having an impact on robotic milking performance and the profitability of your dairy business.

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