The most underutilized product in the Lely product line with the quickest return on investment: The Lely Vector.
Lely Center Mid-Atlantic installed the first Vector system in the United States in 2014 and can speak firsthand to its benefits. We have seen it transform over the years and continually become more accurate and advanced.
In a nutshell, the Vector is Lely’s automatic feeding robot. With the options to feed out of silos or on a fixed rail system with a feed kitchen, its flexibility allows for many different barn layouts. The MFR (Mixing Feeding Robot) has a skirt like a Juno on the bottom which allows it to push feed up each time it travels the alleys, measuring how much feed is present at the feed bunk. A laser measures the peaks and valleys of the feed present at each predetermined feed fence, allowing it to get an average feed height. Once the feed height falls below a preset limit (determined by the dairyman), it will signal the Vector to mix a feed. Two bunks out at once? No problem. The Vector will feed the bunk with highest priority first.
So, where do the savings come into play? Labor, fuel, and feed refusals. Not to mention improved gut health resulting in increased components with less feed additives and overall healthier cows.
The vector reduces a farm’s need for a TMR Mixer. If a farm faces a situation where the mixer wagon broke and needs to be replaced, the Vector is a no brainer. Even without needing a new mixer wagon, the fuel saved (an average of 1,452 gallons of diesel per year) by using a Vector is immense when stacked against the electric usage.
In addition, farmers rarely need to clean out their bunks for feed refusals. The Vector is a “feed to need” robot. In the heat of the summer when intakes are down, the Vector is more active at night when it’s cooler. It is completely tailored to your cows’ varying intakes. You may be inclined to argue that you don’t waste your feed refusals, that you feed them to your heifers or even your dry cows. We both know that’s not the best feed for the future of your herd. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Reduce waste and allow yourself to feed a precise ration to the other groups of animals.
The consistency of the Vector is also impactful on your cow’s rumen bugs. We know cows crave consistency, and their rumen does, too. Time and time again we have seen an increase in milk production after the installation of the Vector as well as increased components.
Farms have also reported seeing decreased cases of Ketosis and culling due to metabolic issues. One Canadian farm reported an increase in butterfat of .2 after having reduced bypass fat by 140 grams per cow per day.
Having said that, we still see a fast return on investment even when we assume no change in production. Changing the art of feeding cows with the Vector is having a huge impact on farm labor situations as well. It is fun to push the numbers on a one Vector and MFR system; but what is really mind blowing is to see the ROI for XL Dairies that magnify their savings and require more than one system. We have run the numbers and have seen payoffs as low as 1.5 years!
Overall, the Lely Vector is the absolute hidden gem of the product line. Personally, I can admit, the first time I heard about the Vector I thought to myself, “That’s too good to be true… that’s just too much.” The more I have learned about it, the more I’m convinced. If I were a dairy producer, I’d be considering a Vector long before I even thought about a Lely Astronaut.
Have more questions about the Vector? Want to pencil out the ROI for your herd? Give us a call today: 717-656-3007.