Milking of eight hundred cows with a robot or rotating milking parlor

Dairy farmer Lars Kristoffersen was one of the first Danish milk producers to choose a milking robot in 2004. After seeing all the robots work at the time, he chose the A2 robot from Lely. He worked with them satisfactorily until 2017. Then the company grew to 800 cows and the robots had to be replaced.

After thirteen years, it is no shame, says the milk producer. He chose Lely again because of the excellent service – he has a full service contract – and the good relationship. Now there are twelve A4 robots running on his company.

Two robots milk the heifers and two stand with the fresh cows and cows that need extra attention. And two groups of four robots milk a group of 250 cows each. The cows are in it from about two weeks after calving until they dry off.


Thanks to the robot, I no longer had to milk two or three times a day, seven days a week

Lars Kristoffersen, milk producer in Denmark

After the transition to the new robots, the cows’ milk production continued to increase. Currently, it is about 11,000 kilos per cow. Higher should still be possible, but the decor of the barn is not quite optimal. At the expansion in 2017, a section was added behind the barn so the cows would have to go further.

Kristoffersen states that things could be better, but moving the robots requires an extra investment. In addition, he switched from housing on straw to bed stalls because the cost of housing all the cows on straw was too high for him. As a result, the corridors and sun loungers are not quite ideal in size.

‘But if I had to optimize it, the investment would be even higher,’ says the milk producer. ‘Then the milk yield must be 12,000 liters per cow to be able to earn it back. Now it also works with 11,000 liters per. cow.’

straw

The transition cows live in a straw barn. Cows that are not good at walking or for some reason do not fit into the large groups also walk in the straw barn.

Kristoffersen then had a clear reason to choose the robot. He would no longer milk the cows seven days a week, two or three times a day. And he would like to grow, but finds the eight hundred cows he now has sufficient. ‘First I want to invest in a better relationship between the soil and my own roughage for the current number of cows. And more cows also means more young animals, which must be taken into account when investing. ‘

Kristoffersen prefers good feeding of the cows and field work. The milking robot made it possible to make that choice. The dairy farmer regularly exchanges land with his neighbors, farmers. He does the fun job of sowing a total of 700 corn, also for his neighbors, and plowing. He outsources the spreading and harvesting of manure.

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Lars Kristoffersen © Lely

Name: Lars Kristoffersen (40)
Place: Orbæk (Denmark)
Company: eight hundred dairy cows, more than five hundred young cattle and 350 acres
Kristoffersen works on his farm with twelve Lely milking robots. Milk production is approximately 11,000 kilos per. cow. The compensation percentage is 35 percent. About 60 percent of the ration consists of our own roughage, two-thirds of which is corn, the rest is grass and part of the alfalfa. Dry cows also get pea silage.

There are six employees for all daily work with the cows. There are some and this is due to strict Danish legislation. The working week can only be 37 hours.

There are two Danish leaders. One is about breeding the young strain and transitional cows and the other about the large group of cows and heifers. Kristoffersen takes care of the daily feeding himself. All other activities, such as gathering cows that do not come to the milking robot themselves, obstetrics, trimming claws, cleaning boxes and caring for calves and young animals are performed by the staff.

Hygiene gets a lot of attention in the company. For example, drinking troughs are cleaned every day. The shallow stainless steel tanks at the company are therefore filled with clean drinking water. Kristoffersen: ‘Then the cows drink and eat more, and that is of course important for production.’

Daily cleaning of the water troughs.
Daily cleaning of the water troughs. © John Lamers

During the visit to Gerard Doldersum’s company in Praesto, the new rotating milking parlor with waiting area and secluded room had just been completed. GEA’s new 60-barn outdoor milking machine replaces the old 28-barn milking parlor.

60-stand rotating outdoor milker from GEA at Gerard Doldersum.
60-stand rotating outdoor milker from GEA at Gerard Doldersum. © John Lamers

Doldersum took over the company from his parents Wessel and Hilda, who emigrated from Drenthe to Denmark in 1996. Doldersum was even for a time a dairy farmer in Texas, where he met his wife. Nevertheless, he returned to Denmark to take over the company.

At the start of the business, old arched stables were present. They could be replaced in 2000 by a new barn. Doldersum: ‘Due to the better housing and water supply and the better climate, production increased by up to 2,000 liters per cow.’

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Gerard Doldersum
Gerard Doldersum © John Lamers

Name: Gerard Doldersum (38 years)
Place: Praesto (Denmark)
Company: Eight hundred dairy cows, more than six hundred young cattle, 385 acres
Doldersum milker with a 60-barn GEA outdoor milker. The production is 11,000 kilos of milk per cow per year. He outsources almost all the earthworks. The young animal breeding is moved to another farmer’s company, so that the number of dairy cows can continue to grow.

The company first grew to six hundred cows and now to eight hundred. For this purpose, a new barn was built containing the rotating milking parlor, waiting area, isolation barn and straw barn for the fresh cows.

The straw barn, together with motion detectors, must signal problems and solve the start-up problems of the fresh cows. Cows with, among other things, lingering milk fever were not always detected quickly enough. There will also be a milking parlor for cows that need to stay separate for a while and to ensure that the fresh cows can start up quietly.

A large part of the new barn is still home to young animals. According to the dairy farmer, the barn is actually too expensive for that. So it will be dairy cows in the future, which will allow growth to 1,200 to 1,300 cows.

Dairy stable by Gerard Doldersum Praesto.
Dairy stable by Gerard Doldersum Praesto. © John Lamers

To that end, Doldersum has entered into an agreement with a milk producer who has stopped milking, but now breeds the young animals. These will be crosses between Holsteins and Jerseys. The milk producer already has good experiences with this in America.

‘Those cows have harder claws and are a little smaller, the Holsteins get very large. And they handle their feed efficiently. Life expectancy can be increased and I would like to get up to about 12,000 kilos of milk per day. Although it is not necessarily the most important thing ‘, says Doldersum.

That the entrepreneur again chose a rotating milking parlor is connected with his growth plans. “Now we can easily milk eight hundred cows with two men. Soon we can milk the three of us. The largest milk producer in Denmark milks two thousand cows in the same barn. I inquired about a rotating milking parlor with robots, but it is ten times more expensive. ‘

‘IQ milk claw’ from GEA

The cows are milked three times a day in the rotating milking parlor. It is an advantage with the seven employees. If a cow kicks the milking cluster off once and it is not seen, it is not a big problem. The next milking does not take very long, so the udder is not pressed too much. Kicking the milking cluster into action only happens sporadically. According to the dairy farmer, this is partly due to the fact that he works with GEA’s ‘IQ milk claw’.

The ‘IQ milk claw’ with four separate control chambers also contributes to the udder health on the farm. “I have hardly treated a cow for two years now,” says Doldersum. “Only now and then do we have a coli problem.”

Doldersum brought the system with round loose pipes from Texas.
Doldersum brought the system with round loose pipes from Texas. © John Lamers

Good udder health is also due to the strict pre-treatment method. A new clean udder is used per. cow. The dairy farmer took this system with him from America, where he was dealing with a staphylococcal infection in the cows. By working very hygienically, he got it under control. And he also got rid of the staphylococci in Denmark with this. The cell count has been around 125,000 for some time now.

At Doldersum, the fresh cows also graze on straw. Then they come to the large group where there is sand in the boxes. Sandboxes are fine for the cows. The downside is wear and tear on all equipment. The cost of the sand is low, so the recovery from manure is higher than supplying new sand.

Kalveigloer by Gerard Doldersum.
Kalveigloer by Gerard Doldersum. © John Lamers

Webinar June 7 – Make money on sustainability

In collaboration with Rabobank, Nieuwe Oogst is organizing an inspiring webinar on how milk producers can continue to make money despite changing markets, climate and rules. It includes three farmers who, through trial and error, have adapted their income model to future developments. This webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 7 from 20:00 to 21:00. You can also be there digitally and ask questions. sign up here

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