Cows aren’t the only creatures that need to be trained to use a dairy robot. The value a dairy farm gets out of an automated system depends on all the people involved knowing how to utilize the machine’s capabilities.
“That robot is doing nothing more than milking your cows,” explains Ben Smink of Lely North America in conversation at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar in the interview below. “Management of the cows is not going to be improved by the robots. The robot is just going to take care of the milking and collecting that information.”
A farm will only realize the full potential of the robot when it learns to turn the many data points collected by the system into actions that move a herd toward management goals, he says.
“The good cow person is able to have the best results in robots because he can focus more on the cow management job than on the milking job itself,” he explains.
There’s usually training required to bring not only the herd manager, but employees, nutritionists, veterinarians and other people involved in making management decisions up-to-speed on how to use the information collected by the robot.
That means precision dairy systems are not only a tool for daily routines in a barn, but should also be integrated into the whole management plan — the vision and goals — for a dairy herd, says Smink.
“Out of your goals you’ll also make an assessment of the critical success factors, and if you know what the critical success factors are, you need precision technology to cover exactly those factors,” he says. “Then you integrate your precision management into the whole management circle.”
Smink chatted with RealAg’s Shaun Haney at the Western Canadian Dairy Seminar in Red Deer earlier this month: