by Jim Salfer and Marcia Endres
Speaker: Jim Salfer, MS
Extension Educator, Dairy
University of Minnesota Extension, St. Cloud, MN
Feeding and management is often more challenging in an automatic milking system (AMS) compared to a conventional milking system. Feeding in an AMS is more complex because it requires balancing the ration that is offered in the feed bunk (a partially mixed ration, PMR) and the pelleted feed offered in the milking station. Some keys to success include special observation and monitoring of fresh cows. Fresh cows not feeling well may continue to consume all the milking box feed, but decrease intake of the PMR. This potentially can set up the cow for sub-acute rumen acidosis, digestive upsets and diseases. Monitor rumination, activity and manure on all fresh cows. If these metrics are deteriorating producers need to intervene rapidly to prevent health problems. It is also important to have a very palatable PMR to encourage intake. Frequent fetching of fresh cows should be a priority to increase milk production throughout lactation. Consider multiple feeds in the milking box for more precise targeting of nutrients to meet the cow’s needs. It is also important to have adequate cow comfort and good hoof health. It is also important for managers to utilize the information to maximize cow performance and health. Other included machine maintenance and dealer support.