Parlour type: Herringbone
Milking points: 18
Herd size: 200
Installation date: Sept 2020. InVent installed Dec 2020.
Each milking was taking 3.5 hours. So adding more cows – two or three more rows – would have pushed this to at least four hours per milking.
I was sure the ADF system was a way to milk more cows through the same parlour, and with the same number of staff, without taking more time. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Cows are milked twice a day by one person. We are pleased with the performance of the automatic cluster flushing and teat dipping – not least because it’s shaved 20 minutes off milking time.
It’s done what we hoped it would do, and we know we’re not compromising udder hygiene or the milking routine. If anything, automating part of it should bring greater consistency and make sure nothing is missed.
I don’t like things to be complicated. We pre-spray with iodine and wipe teats once. And we only pre-milk high SCC or mastitis ‘troublemakers’ – we know our cows well. For the majority of milkers, it’s a case of spray, wipe and clusters on. And the ADF system does the rest once milking is complete.
It’s given us peace of mind. We know that all teats have been dipped properly and all the clusters are cleaned thoroughly between cows. And it’s saving time. So, as we begin to add more cows we’ll be able to milk the larger herd and keep within three hours in the parlour. This also means the interval between the two daily milkings will stay the same.
We have actually been able to start milking a little later in the morning, at 4.30am. And the afternoon milking starts at 3.00pm.
Milking routine and working conditions are just as important to staff as they are to the herd.
All our staff work a five-day week and milk for 10 days out of every 14.
The herd’s average somatic cell count has always been pretty good, but it’s fallen by 15,000 cells/ml since installing the ADF and InVent. Average SCC now stands at 113,000 cells/ml for the herd.
Prior to installing the ADF system, only 7% of cows required antibiotic treatment for mastitis. This is now down to just 4% in 12 months.
We do see other cases in the herd, but they self-cure with NSAID treatment and a little TLC, it didn’t take a lot to convince me to install InVent, on the back of the results we’d seen with the ADF. Once I understood the additional benefits the technology offers, which go far beyond quicker and ‘kinder’ milking, it was a no brainer.
INVENT BROUGHT MORE IMPROVEMENTS
Since the installation of InVent milk yields have increased by an extra 0.5 litres per milking per cow. That’s a litre a day and, potentially, around 300 extra litres per lactation for freshly calved cows. The herd is currently averaging 11,300 litres of milk at 4.6% butterfat and 3.5% protein.
In addition to the 20 minutes shaved off by the automatic flushing and dipping system, InVent has cut milking time by a further 10 minutes, pushing up daily time saved in the milking parlour from 40 minutes to an hour. If you look at that during the course of a year, that’s a lot of hours saved.
We also know our cows are being milked out more gently and completely – there are teat condition and udder health gains to be made here. And stress is also kept to a minimum – for the cows and also, ultimately, the person in the pit.
Kicking, fidgeting, defecating – it’s all reduced. And these calmer cows then go back out into the sheds to drink, eat and lie down. There has to be other hidden health, fertility, productivity and efficiency benefits to be had here.
Cows should also, ultimately, complete more lactations in the herd. Only time will tell, but I’m excited to see more benefits become apparent as we move forward.