Milk Meters, Cow ID and Computerized Dairy Management
Managing a dairy with the latest computerized management system can be great fun – and very profitable! Can be, not guaranteed to be. The owner has to be determined to make the system work and either he himself or somebody at the dairy has to take full responsibility for the system and operate it every day - entering data into the computer.
A Computerized Dairy Management system - CDM - does not solve existing problems. Instead, it takes a well managed dairy to a whole new level of success, efficiency and profitability.
In our opinion…
- Changing from tie-stall milking to a free stalls and a parlor on the one hand and
- Taking the dairy into Computerized Dairy Management on the other
are two different projects that should not be undertaken at the same time.
Typically it takes a year for the management team, the milkers and the cows to adjust to free stall dairying and parlor milking. That’s’ getting the team to work together, getting the parlor and the new milking routine fine tuned, maybe changing from 2 x to 3x milking and getting the new manure system to work smoothly.
If you install CDM at the same time - at an additional investment or debt of roughly $100,000 - chances are the new system will be neglected until the stress resulting from all the other changes levels off.
What is ‘Computerized Dairy Management' or CDM?
Several hardware systems that collect data from the cows, which are then ‘mined’ by very sophisticated software, resulting in daily management reports with information that even the best, most dedicated and most experienced manager can not develop in his head, nor with manual herd tracking systems, nor with off-site computing such as DHIA.
These reports pretty much also set your priorities for the day. For example:
Milk Meters, tracking daily production
Conductivity measurements and SCC estimates for early mastitis detection and prediction
Activity counters for heat detection
Scales for daily tracking body weights
People tracking systems and Equipment tracking systems
The software collects the data and tracks them over long periods of time, resulting in personal profiles for each cow. Eventually the system predicts problems before they develop.
Which System? DeLaval Alpro, AIC, AfiMilk, Surge’s Metatron, or one of several others. I am not sufficiently familiar with any of them to make judgments or recommendations one way or another, except one - AfiMilk.
AfiMilk, in development and production since the late 70s, has developed into the leading system world-wide, without the shadow of a doubt.
Starting with a simple Milk Meter, developed by Eli Pelli, a member of the Kibbutz Afikim (and its dairy farm) in Israel, the Kibbutz eventually formed a team of highly talented engineers from around the world, concentrating on nothing but CDM.
Now in it’s sixth generation, with several 100,000 systems installed, the equipment is absolutely reliable, both mechanically and electronically, and the software provides information that borders on miracles.
Only drawback—the system is expensive. Roughly $4,000 per station, give or take $500, plus from $15 TO $100 per cow for the ID Tag.
A Temporary Alternative
If a full-blown CDM System is out of your range for now, consider Germania’s AccuWeigh ‘Hold-All’ meters as a temporary and reasonable priced alternative. Temporary, because they cannot be computerized. When you are ready for the big times exchange them for the latest CDM System.
- AccuWeighs give you a good vacuum reserve right next to the cow
- They hold all of the milk. Before the cows leave, take a quick look along the windows
- They drain automatically—when you push the Brisket Bar Up button, we shut the vacuum to the AWs off and open a drain valve at the bottom. After about 75 seconds the system closes the valves at the bottom and re-vacuumizes the containers
- Convenient way to catch fresh cow milk—no need to hassle with buckets
- DHIA approved, comes with butter fat testers if you need them
Or—if you just want to keep track of production for your own purposes, we can install AWs with clear windows and without butterfat testers for even less money.
If you are now on DHIA there’s a problem nobody ever talks about: The tester installs his meter into your system, which changes the system! The meter may increase vacuum fluctuations, but for sure the system does not milk as it does on all other days. With AWs the system never changes.
AWs are only available remanufactured and AWs with good windows that are acceptable to DHIA are hard to find. Cost is about $250 more than with clear windows about $550 and $800 respectively. Butterfat testers are an additional $145.
Price includes a AW Control Box on each side of the parlor, a ‘Vacuum-Wash Line and a 3-way valve per side.
They come in two sizes—AW-65 for 3X milking and AW-90 for 2X. Either way enough capacity for cows giving 180 lbs.
What happens if you milk a 200 lb cow? Remember that with AccuWeighs, the 2” combination Vacuum-Wash lines supplies the milking vacuum to the cows, not the 3” Lo-Line. The 3" Lo-Line becomes a simple milk transport line, moving the milk from the AccuWeighs to the Receiver Group.
The Vacuum/Wash combination line gets its vacuum directly from the Receiver. If an AW flows over, the milk ends up in the Receiver.
For cleaning we supply solution under pressure to the 2” wash line, which routes it alternatively both to the Claws and TakeOffs on the one hand and the AWs on the other..