Thursday, 16 October 2014

828,000 kg milk with one robot

By Mikko Säynäjärvi
Minna and Erkki Pajukoskis from Finland have achieved an incredible annual production of 828,000 kg milk with only one robot. Besides world-class breeding material the result requires a very environment for the animals and plenty of feed 24 hours a day.
Erkki (46) and Minna (45) and the youngest of their three sons, Markus (17) runs the farm Sivula in Finland. They have a new and old milking barn parallel to each other. In the new robotic milking barn are 70 cows dairy cows and in the old tie-stall barn are almost 20 cows. The farm is where Erkki was born and the generational change was made in 1987. At that time there were 16 cows and 22 hectares in the property, and they never imagined the current annual production of almost one million kg milk and growing 166 hectares of land. The average production for the 92 cows of the herd is 10,700 kg with 3.9% fat and 3.4% protein.

Appreciate FabaINTO
The first expansion of the herd was in 1997 with an increase of 37 cows. A little more than half were Holstein cows and the rest Ayrshires. In 2011 they moved to the robotic milking barn, but the old tie-stall barn was still being used. In the tie-stall barn are only good dairy cows that do not fit into the robotic milking system. In connection with the expansion they entered a FabaINTO contract that gave them good benefits. FabaINTO arrange the exchange of breeding material between Finnish cattle breeders. "It was easy to buy pregnant heifers but particularly when buying young animals INTO was a good help", Erkki says.

You need to have the correct amount of animals of various age – including breeding. Especially in the beginning it is important to have animals of various age. Many expanding herds do not take this into consideration. Furthermore you’d need a evenly distributed calving rhythm. "Take out you schedule. If you have a herd the same size as ours and have less than six calvings a month then buy animals, and if there are more then sell" says Erkki. Minna and Erkki do not follow this strictly but on average of two months they do.

In the world top for production in only one robot
The farm’s herd has been adjusted to the robot. The Lely robot milked 828,845 kg milk last year – of which only 18,607 kg were separated. The result is one of the best in the world for Lely robots. The robot has only eight percent free capacity – and the minimum recommendation is 10 percent. Last year the robot milked 69 cows in average, and in the tie-stall barn was produced app. 150,000 kg milk.

"Using the robot in the most optimal way with as many kg milk as possible, is what matters" Erkki states. This requires that all parameters are optimized. Breeding advisor Katja Tulppo makes the mating plan together with Minna and Erkki, and fast milking speed is a must for sires in the breeding plan with index 100 minimum. Milking speed should be in the interval 2.9-3.1 kg/min. which is also the breeding goal of the farm – both for Ayrshire and Holstein. For the Ayrshire animals they focus particular in longevity and for Holstein on udder health.

Furthermore is a distance of at least 27 cm from teats to floor an important measure. If this cannot be met, the cow will be moved to the tie-stall barn or culled.

Clear routes and much feed
Besides the animal material, feed and building should also be good. Easy access to the robot for the cows, easy routes and access to plenty of feed. Then you obtain good atmosphere in the barn. "At a normal periodicity in the barn 60% of the cows lie down, 20% walk, 10% eat and 10% are in the robot", Erkki explains.

At the farm they use Viking sires and Faba’s AI technicians do the services. Minna handles the heat control with a heat detector. Several AI technicians visit the farm, but Ulla Löytynoja do the pregnancy tests, and the reserved semen doses are in her container. There are enough good sires, and if the recommended sire is not on stock, they always have a good alternative. "The plans for the future have partly been clarified as regard which of the six children will take over the farm" Erkki says. The three children still living at home are all interested in the cattle herd, but Minna and Erkki still have some years ahead, and consider the next phase with robot no. 2.

Minna and Erkki

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