Tips for computerised bail feeding

Tips for computerised bail feeding

Dairy
Poly pipe protecting an EID reader in a rotary dairy.

Poly pipe protecting an EID reader in a rotary dairy.

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Computerised bail-feeding technology gives farmers the flexibility to customise the amount and type of supplementary feed given to each cow.

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Computerised bail-feeding technology gives farmers the flexibility to customise the amount and type of supplementary feed given to each cow.

This enables feeding to:

  • prepare cows for drying-off (ramping down);
  • manage cows in transition (lead feeding); and
  • manage cows in early lactation (ramping up).

In 2018, 35 per cent of dairy farms in NSW had computerised bail-feeding technology.

The farmers in the TechKISS project said that they benefited from this technology by reducing feed wastage (and cost of production) and allowing feed to be sourced and used more efficiently and cheaply.

The tips and traps shared for making this technology work best on-farm included:

  • Ensure cows are being matched with the right bail.
  • Where electronic identification 9eID) readers are at the entry to the dairy, ensure cows can't back out or pass each other once they have been read.
  • If there is a sensor on every bail, regularly check they recognise the cow EID.
  • Put EID tags in the ear on the right so they can't be read by a sensor in the adjacent bail.
  • Work with a nutritionist to ensure the feed tables are appropriate and up-to-date.
  • Ensure feed is being correctly dispensed.
  • Calibrate feed dispensers for every new load of feed.
  • In herringbone dairies, check when feed starts and stops dispensing.
  • In rotary dairies, check the position of the feed drop in relation to cups on.
  • Visually check residual feed in bins.
For computerised bail feeding, each cow must be identified as in its specific bail.

For computerised bail feeding, each cow must be identified as in its specific bail.

Electronic identification

EID enables the quick and accurate identification of animals.

It is a necessary part of any technology used for individual cow management on dairy farms and makes customised management of cows possible in large herds.

In 2018, 60pc of dairy farms in NSW had cow management technologies that used EID.

When EID is working well it should correctly identify 98 out of 100 cows that pass the reader.

Farms in the TechKISS project shared tips about making EID work on their farms.

These included:

  • Check for possible interference. For example at installation check that metal poles, fluorescent lights and electric fences are not causing electro-magnetic interference, ensure variable speed drives and motors have shielded cables, and place the antenna on wood if possible to reduce interference effects.
  • Ensure that the antenna is protected from damage by cows, for example by using poly pipe (that does not block signal transmission) as a guard.
  • Always put National Livestock Identification Scheme tags in the ear on the right. This helps keep the tags in the 'zone of detection' for readers. It also avoids the cross reading of tags from cows in adjacent feed bails.

See all their tips and traps in short videos and info sheets on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website (search for 'dairy technologies').

Article courtesy of the TechKISS project, which was supported by the NSW Dairy Industry Fund.

For more information, contact Pauline Brightling, email pauline@harrisparkgroup.com.au or phone 0418 336 211.

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