I’m sure you know what VIP is. There are VIP areas in concerts, airports and football stadiums. There is VIP parking, VIP tickets, VIP lanes and VIP customers. Those are services for Very Important Persons, the very important ones that deserve or have purchased something extra special for their comfort. For VIPs it means more room or leg space, no queuing and as much food and drink(s) they can take. Everything is a bit more comfortable and hassle free.
There are VIPs in a barn too, but we call them VICs: Very Important Cows. The most important group of VICs are the fresh cows. Those animals deserve and benefit from all the extra special. Many researches have proven that when you give fresh cows more bunk space and a comfortable laying place in deep bedded area or in a stall with deep bedding and add in a good fresh cow management program so that all the sicknesses are treated in early phase, the result is better milk production and health. Fresh cows in robot barns are no different from their colleagues in conventional milking, so VIC-pen is needed also there.
Technology that comes with milking robots gives a farm manager a lot of information about cows in every milking. You can get amount of milk, fat and protein content, somatic cell count, rumination, activity, BHB, temperature, weight and even more. Some people argue, that there is no need to separate fresh cows from the main milking groups in robot barns, because we have all that information on our computer screen. It is true that with all that information, the first signs of illness or metabolic disorders are easier to detect. With milk temperature for example, you don’t have to go to every cow to measure rectal temperature. Fresh cows in robotic barn may not need so much human interaction, but they do need 76 cm (30“) of bunk space, extra comfortable laying place and a smaller group with less competition. Naturally overcrowding is a definitive NO-NO for these ladies. The other very important advantage of VIC group is an easy and short voluntary access to the milking 24/7. With this little piece of luxury for first weeks after calving, cows will learn to use automatic milking more easily and reach the goal of three milkings per day in very early in lactation. VIC pen in a robot barn makes working more efficient when animals that need attention and all the facilities and equipment for their management are very close.
Fresh cows enjoying their life in the VIC-pen :)
There is no reason why we wouldn’t give fresh cows their own extra comfortable lounge in a VIC pen. It is possible and already working in many of 4dBarn customer´s barns!