Data that delivers

Milking robots yield vast amount of data which can be overwhelming, but ForFarmers’ OptiRobot programme turns it into valuable and actionable insight. Account Manager and Robotic Specialist Emma Moore explains how some of her clients have benefitted.

Robotic Milking
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“It can be difficult for producers to know what data to focus on, as they work towards their objectives,” says ForFarmers Emma Moore. “But OptiRobot can make a huge difference, identifying outliers and areas of potential improvement.”

ForFarmers’ OptiRobot is the only system that can collect real time data from any automated milking system and provide clear and detailed analysis.

“Before we had this programme, we could access data while on farm, but could only see the reports the farmers had access to,” explains Emma.

OptiRobot can do so much more, comparing numerous datasets and producing daily reports to make it easier for ForFarmers advisors to spot trends and drill down to exactly what is happening on the farm.

“This means that all our recommendations are based on data not guesswork,” says Emma.

“OptiRobot ties in with the robots’ own data collection, running quietly in the background without interfering with anything else. By using the data in a different way to the standard robot report we can help farms with their attention to detail and identify where marginal gains can be made.”

For example, Emma spotted anomalies on OptiRobot’s chart of seven-day average of refusals against days-in-milk for one client’s herd.

“The graph showed three particular cows with high refusal rates, and identified that they were all in early lactation. This was suggesting that potentially these cows were a little bit short of energy.

“Armed with that information we adjusted the concentrate allocation accordingly to build them up pre-60 days.”

Using the data this way provides insights that wouldn’t be accessible through the standard reports that are used day-to-day by farmers.

“In this example we were able to pick up that these cows were clearly wanting to go to the robot and give plenty of milk, and we were able to push them on according to when they reached their peak yields.”

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An example from another farm compared rest feed (the difference between the allocated feed and actual intake) with milking speed. “Using this dataset we identified two obvious outliers who had very high rest feed and were particularly fast milkers averaging 3.5kg a minute.

“When we delved into it further we could see they were both giving nearly 50 litres and milking just over two times a day.

They were both allocated 10kg of concentrates, but rest feed levels were at 3.5kg and above every day.

“The maximum feed allocation per visit was 3kg per visit so these cows weren’t visiting the robots enough to receive their
full allocation.”

Emma and her client were able to make some changes to robot settings. “But it really came down to this maximum allocation per visit. We worked alongside the robot manufacturer to change this, so that faster milking cows could access their full feed allocation.

“The farmer wouldn’t have been able to pick up on this particular issue as these different sets of information wouldn’t normally be pulled up unless they’d gone individually through all the different cow cards.

“OptiRobot has broadened the horizons of what is possible and is really proving its worth for herds wanting to make those marginal gains.”

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