The 2017 Empire Farm Days was hosted by Rodman Lott & Son Farms in Seneca Falls, New York, Aug. 8-10. The Lott family has been hosting the event since 1988. The three-day show featured over 600 exhibits, live demonstrations and the latest equipment. Although the show started off a little rainy, it thankfully cleared up toward early afternoon on the first day. Here are a few takeaways from the week.

Tips for increasing milk per box

Douglas Waterman, Ph.D., talked about robotic milking and tips for increasing milk per box. Many factors affect milk frequency: milk production, the barn, cow health and cow comfort all play a role. Not only that, but lame cows have more problems with robots. According to Waterman, lame cows are a more serious problem in automatic milking systems (AMS) herds and will influence feeding frequency and the use of stalls, lying time and lying bouts.

Douglas Waterman, Ph.D.

What should you expect during the transition to robotic milking? Optimizing milk in an AMS has the same basic requirements needed in a parlor. Waterman suggests having good cow comfort with deep bedded stalls, high-quality forage, available feed and adequate bunk space and stocking density. When transitioning to milking robots, milk production will change and the primary driver for the change in milk production with reproductive management system (RMS) is a change in milking frequency. Waterman noted that robotic herds had production increases of 5 to 10 percent compared to milking two times, but production decreased 5 to 10 percent compared to milking three times. Waterman said to optimize efficiency, the goal is to have high-milking frequency in early lactation and lower-milking frequency in later lactation.

The primary factors that affect individual cow and herd average milking frequency include: number of cows per robot, milking permission settings, palatability and quality of partial-mixed ration and robot box feed, robot free time, cow fetching policy and barn design and walking distance.

Don’t forget to add feed into the robot to incentivize voluntary attendance; visits will decline if the feed isn’t available. Waterman noted that pellet is preferred over mash and hard palatable pellet with minimal fines is important.

Waterman’s top suggestions are to stick to the basics first, provide a high-quality pellet but not overfeeding, group to optimize milk per box in a facility, balance between milkings per cow, milk per cow and cows per box. He also emphasized having excellent managers and a plan because a farmer’s approach needs to be based on the goals, facilities and cows.

Top things to know about winter prep for beef management with Dr. Michael Baker

  1. A farmer needs to have their hay tested and run through a forage lab so they know what they’re dealing with and that the hay is good quality.
  2. Baker noted that sometimes water is forgotten about and cows need clean, fresh water all the time. One crucial point about the way a farmer delivers water is that it cannot be frozen.
  3. Mineral nutrition. The most important thing is for the cows to be in good condition, Baker said. If cows go into the winter really thin, their lactate will be thin for calving time and will cause problems. After weaning, their nutrient requirements increase so a farmer can add weight.

Baker said that a common misconception about going into the winter is that cows need a lot of cover. Cows have a rumen that produce a lot of heat. That keeps the animal warm and as long as the cow has a good wind break, she will do great without a barn.

Read more: How The Lott Family Hosts Empire Farm Days