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Development of the visiting behavior of cows in voluntary Automatic Milking System

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  024229,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.10534) @2002
Authors:   Christina Umstaetter, Jens Unrath, Otto Kaufmann
Keywords:   Automatic Milking System, milking robot, milking box, free cow traffic, visiting behavior, formula of allowance, learning

Nowadays there are a lot of AMS with free cow traffic. In such systems cows have to visit the milking box voluntarily. With increasing experiences we have to notice, that there are a lot of problems with the free cow traffic. Therefore we focused on the development of the visiting behavior.

In our experiment we analyzed the data of 73 cows for 6 months with more than 36,000 values from the voluntary AMS. Besides we observed 23 cows at the beginning of the lactation, to find out in what time the animals learn to visit the system voluntarily. Between nine days and two months after parturition the cows were integrated in the herd, milked by an AMS. In the first days people brought the cows to the milking box twice a day until the animals have learned to visit the robot voluntarily.

Some of the cows need only a few days and others more than a month to develop an own strategy of visiting the milking box. In the first days of lactation the cows had the maximum permission to be milked five times per day. A special software with a formula of allowance has controlled the regulation of visits. In our opinion this formula has not only to take into account, that the rate of visits must show an adaptation to the state of lactation, it has also to give the animals a chance to learn and to interact with the robot. That means that the permission for milking depends at first on the day of lactation and the milk yield per day. At second the reactions of the AMS has to be reliable for the cows. Sudden changes can not be understood by the individuals. Some of them need only few days, others much longer for learning. In most cases the cows developed the simple strategy of trial and error, because the formula was not transparent for the animals.

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