The first year has already been a step forward for animal health: “Milking is carried out more gently and not only has animal welfare improved, but so has productivity,” says Ivo Pospíchal, manager of animal production, happy about the boost in animal comfort at the Agrodružstvo Blížkovice cooperative. For a good year now, the fully automated GEA DairyProQ rotary milking parlor, the first to be installed in the Czech Republic, has been operating at the South Moravian town of Moravské Budějovice. The switch from conventional milking using a Alfa Laval dovetail system with 2 sets of 12 stalls to the fully automated GEA milking system with 28 milking stalls is the core of a series of measures that improve the conditions animals are kept in and prepare the cooperative’s operation for the future.
Strategy for better housing conditions
Consisting of several subsidiaries in the Znojmo region, the cooperative mainly keeps cattle. Around half of the 1,250 cows are Holstein dairy cows, the rest are fattening bulls, young bulls and Bohemian spotted red cattle. Its 6,100 hectares of cultivated land is used for growing fodder. “For seven years now, we have been investing in husbandry,” says Rudolf Petříček, as he explains the strategy that aims at optimizing housing conditions from the ground up. The cooperative’s director adds that the calving shed for cows and the hall for rearing young cattle have already been built, designed in accordance with animal-friendly standards. The newest building project is the free stall for the 545 dairy cows featuring a giant leap towards more animal comfort while also optimizing work efficiency.
“Feel-good” free stall for 545 dairy cows
“We would like to continue breeding, which is why we decided to completely restructure our milk production,” explains Pospíchal. The old stall system was neither up-to-date nor did it comply with today’s demands. In contrast, the new free stall takes all aspects of animal welfare into account. Plenty of light and room to roam is what dairy cows can expect in the five-row barn with a slatted floor and inside feeding lane. The continuous supply of fresh air can be controlled as required via externally mounted curtains; fans ensure pleasant cooling on warm summer days. On rubber mats in spacious cubicles, cows find clean and dry resting areas for undisturbed ruminating. Wide walkways simplify reaching waterers and ensure that every animal finds a space at the feeding table, and thus access to fresh feed rations. While the first section of the free stall has already been occupied since November 6, the new, complete building will be ready to move into in May of the coming year.
High-class milking comfort in the milking parlor
It’s well-known that only cows that feel completely at ease can give high-quality milk. The cooperative chose GEA’s automated rotary milking parlor because the DairyProQ allows the “feel-good” climate in the free stall to extend all the way to the milking box. The calm, standardized milking process is ideal for animals that enjoy regular routines. In addition, the In-Liner Everything technology guarantees a particularly gentle milking procedure and the hygienic conditions necessary for the best milk quality from udder to tank. “That means ‘all-in-one-teat’ – from stimulation to cleaning, pre-milking, the actual milking and dipping – all these steps are carried out in a single cycle in every single teat cup,” explains Milan Lněnička from the GEA sales team for the Czech Republic. After milking, the automatic dipping function carefully moistens the sensitive teat skin economically with a care product, improving teat stamina and especially keeping pathogens from entering the teat canal during the following hours in the free stall.
Center for managing cow health
The cooperative was also won over by the great opportunities for timely and easy management of cow health that the DairyProQ provides. Each one of the 28 milking stalls is equipped with a milking robot that identifies the dairy cow and attaches the in-liner teat cup to the teats with the help of 3D camera technology. Subsequently the milk flow is monitored in each and every teat during milking. If anomalies in conductivity, color, temperature or milk quantity in any individual quarter arise, the operator is informed via alert notifications. Thanks to the indicators, a beginning mastitis can be detected at an early stage and the animal involved can be treated before it comes to a clinical outbreak of the disease. This way animal health is managed preemptively, minimizing performance decline and milk loss.
Creating a healthy, lively herd with GEA CowScout
How do you keep an eye on every animal in large herds? The precision activity measurement via GEA CowScout brings Ivo Pospíchal and Rudolf Petříček up to date in terms of eating and lying times of individual animals. The monitoring system observes every animal via cow sensors and creates movement profiles while cows eat, lie or move around. Two valuable conclusions can be drawn: if a cow is limited in her mobility, appropriate, targeted measures can be taken. If she is in heat, she will promptly be made available for insemination. The modern fitness tracker for cows supports the cooperative in building a healthy herd and helps reduce treatment costs considerably.
Good milk quality and performance with healthy cows
After one year of operating with the DairyProQ rotary milking parlor, the cooperative’s daily output has reached 17,000 liters of milk. The modern, attractive workplace requires only one operator to run the automated rotary milking parlor during milking times and control the data and the activities of individual cows. That’s why workforce planning has become much easier, particularly on weekends and holidays. The great calm during milking and the relaxed procedures between free stall, holding area with GEA cow herders and DairyProQ rotary milking parlor reflect the new balance in the relationship between man, animal and technology.
It was our goal to ensure the health and welfare of our cows and thus achieve high daily milk production. The equipment is state-of-the-art and guarantees the best possible quality of milk. After one year we can say that GEA’s DairyProQ rotary milking parlor delivers exactly what we had hoped for.”- Ivo Pospíchal, Manager of Animal Production, Agrodružstvo Blížkovice cooperative