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Learning From Success: Pasture Allocation on AMS Farms

09 July 2013

Cow movement can be affected by the regularity of feeding which has impacts on Automatic Milking Systems, Dr Cameron Clark of the University of Sydney has found.

Cows move voluntarily around automatic milking system (AMS) farms. Movement around AMS farms can be encouraged in a number of ways but the most effective and reliable motivator is feed. Pasture is the predominant feed source on the majority of Australian AMS farms and, in this regard, pasture allocation has an effect on cow movement and the overall success of the system.

FutureDairy work has shown that offering AMS cows 2 vs. 3 breaks of pasture increased cow traffic as less feed was offered in each break for 3 allocations, increasing the incentive for cows to move around the system. In the same work, equal proportions of pasture were offered in each break and active access time split equally across a day.


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"...these farmers allocate pasture according to the previously mentioned cow activity to encourage voluntary cow movement, and as a result fetch very few cows"
Dr Cameron Clark


However, dairy cattle tend to have times when they are active and when they rest.

In conventional milking systems and in AMS, cows are typically more active during the day than night sleeping between 0200 h to 0400 h in the early morning.

The impact of altering the time and proportion of pasture in each break on voluntary cow movement in AMS is unknown.

Anecdotal data from two commercial AMS farms with excellent voluntary cow movement suggest that these farmers allocate pasture according to the previously mentioned cow activity to encourage voluntary cow movement, and as a result fetch very few cows.

Although the impact of altering time periods and amount of pasture is unknown, some farmers have do encourage cow movement through the allocation of pastures.

FutureDairy is collaborating with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) to obtain data on the timing and quantity of feed allocation on two AMS farms located in Tasmania and Victoria with excellent voluntary cow movement. The data captured from these farms will then be packaged and made available to aid pasture allocation decisions made by all pasture-based AMS farmers.

June 2013

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