A failed milking is a milking that has stopped prior to completion. A failed milking is an unsuccessful milking, which should be prevented at any time. Every failed milking is taking up to eight minutes of precious robot time. It is important to check failed milkings twice a day and prevent new failures. A cause for failed milkings can be unsuccessful connection attempts.
We recommend keeping failures at farm level as low as possible with a maximum of five failures per robot, and connection attempts under 1.3.
Globally benchmarking over 35.000 robots, we observe on average 3.8 failures per robot per day and the top 10% shows only 1.7 failures per robot per day.
Farms ranked in the top 10% regarding connection performance have on average 1.15 connection attempts and 1.6 failures per robot per day. The top 10% consists of all robot types. For A5, the top 10% in connection performance has on average 1.1 connection attempts and 1.4 failures per robot per day. 75% of A5 robots are below 1.3 connection attempts. The average for A4, A3N and A3 is 1.35, with 35% below 1.3 connection attempts.
One connection attempt means a quarter was successfully connected at the first attempt. 1.25 connection attempts means that on average one extra attempt is needed per four quarters.
Benefits of a low number of connection attempts and failures for robot, cow and farmer:
A reduced number of failed milkings due to improved connection performance has benefits for robot efficiency, cow health and behaviour - and contributes to less manual interventions.
Improve connection performance
Step 1: Check if it is a cow or robot related issue
Check report 13 – Failed milkings
Order on cow and/or robot number. Check if the same cows appear repeatedly and if one robot is more prevalent than others.
TIP: Milk access table does not apply after a failed milking for that specific cow, resulting in immediate or continuous access to the milking robot. Thereby a failed milking can result in a consecutive failed milking for the same cow. Occasionally cows that have many failed milkings in a short period have very little milk remaining in some quarters. This can cause further failures as the robot believes the cow has not produced enough milk to have a successful milking. Often this is seen in cows which have milked out two or three quarters but have milk remaining in one quarter. On some occasions, it is best to mark this cow as successful on the X-link to allow more time to produce more milk. Supervision may be required at the next milking.
The robot tries to attach teat cups within a maximum of 300 seconds or 10 attachment attempts, whichever comes first. If the robot fails to successfully connect the teat cups, or if a milking fails, one of the following errors could be shown:
Step 2: Determine the reason for failure and take action
To guarantee optimal connection performance the basics need to be in place. This includes how cows come to the Astronaut, as well as (daily) maintenance status, building specifications and installation procedure at the robot level. Check the identified robot/cow and determine the reason for the failure by analyzing the visit result, and take appropriate action.
Possible actions at cow or robot level are:
To consider at cow level:
Is udder conformation contributing to the issue?
· Consider making cow a 3 titter if one quarter isn’t producing milk
· Consider milking cows with crossed/close teats less frequently, e.g. 2x per day
· Decrease the milk access for cows with less than 8 kg per milking
· Consider less frequent milking or drying off cows with low production
· Check if udder conformation is suitable for automatic milking system
· Provide assistance for cows with udder swelling or edema (supervised visit)
· Reset teat coordinates in Horizon
· Treat mastitis
Are udders hairy or dirty?
· Singe or shave udders and shave the tails to remove excessive hair
· Improve barn/cubicle hygiene to prevent dirty udders
Are cows restless at the start of milking?
· Fly control / ventilation to prevent disturbance
To consider at robot level:
Are all operator tasks performed according to Lely standards and on time?
· Calibrating all components (laser, arm, camera, weighing floor)
· Clean laser, 3D camera and weighing platform
Is the service schedule up to date?
· Replace split or leaking tubes and check tube lengths
· Check cords/ropes / chains for damage and length
· Check robot software version: robots with the latest software version perform better on connection performance
Is the robot installed according to specifications?
· Check for use of Lely rubber mat, including manure grid floor. Robots with rubber mats installed perform better on connection performance.
Are the correct teat liners used?
· In case of connection performance-related issues after switching to Lely Silicone S liners or Lely Rubber liners, verify if the laser is hitting the cups by placing a white paper towel over each liner.
· Check teat liner fit: liners that are too big tend to fall off when attaching, liners that are too small are difficult to attach.