As you have seen in my recent blog posts, we have been doing a lot of work with the VaDia on our farms since January. One key parameter the VaDia allows us to easily identify is the occurrence of bimodal milk let downs. In layman’s terms, a bimodal milking event is when the cow is not ready to milk when the cup is attached. She is in low or no flow under vacuum at the start of milking. A bimodal event has a lot of negative repercussions on the cow. A teat under vacuum with low or no milk flow can increase the incidence of hyperkeratosis and therefore increase her risk of mastitis. Bimodal let downs also reduce overall milk yield for the cow and increase boxtime leading to reduced efficiency.
So, what can you do about it? Bimodal events occur when a cow is not properly stimulated for milking. The very first step in this process is making sure your milk access tables are giving cows the best access so that they come with full udders ready to milk. We will save that talk for another day. The next step is making sure we have adequate stimulus at the time of milking. As you will recall from your parlor days, a cow needs 60-90 seconds of stimulation for milk letdown to occur. The same time principle applies to your automatic milking system. This is what we are going to key into today. You do not need a VaDia to see whether this is a potential opportunity for your herd. Below you will find the steps to see exactly how long your robot spends on pretreatment time.
- Start by locating report 56. Milking- Robot Performance
2. In the top left corner choose “Copy”. This will allow you to edit the report. If you already have a copy of the report you will need to give it a different name then the suggested default name.
3. Once you have the copy made, click “edit” in the top left of the report.
4. Under the “Milk” column, look for “Milk- Time Treatment Pre”. Drag or double click to move it to the “Selected Fields” box on the right side of the screen. I like to drag it and put it right above the “Milk- Dead Milk Time LF” field. Once you finish, click save.
5. While there are many columns on this report that are worth reviewing, we are going to focus on what you just added. You will now see the column “Time Treatment Pre”. That is going to show you how long the robot is spending prepping cows. Your goal is to see this in the 1:30 range. You can also see how that correlates to Dead Milk Time. Dead Milk Time is the time the robot is attached to a cow with vacuum on and no milk flow. Our goal for Dead Milk Time is 12 seconds or less. Dead Milk Time is a parameter that is highly correlated to what we see as bimodal let downs on the VaDia. If you are seeing a lower pretreatment time with higher Dead Milk Times, it is very likely your cows may be experiencing bimodal let downs and you should increase your pretreatment settings in T4C.
As always, if you go through this process and realize this is something you are facing, do not hesitate to reach out! We are here to help you with whatever challenges you are facing.