In an automatic milking system (AMS) the role of the cow is essential. They must attend the robot independently and frequently enough to get milked. By creating good conditions, the learning process to achieve this behaviour is simple. When done correctly, cows are active and get their treat from the robot. It’s crucial that the treat is highly palatable and found only at the robot.

Treats are something extra, just like it is for us humans.

Treats From the Robot
Cows visit the robot in order to get their treats (“a nice piece of chocolate”).


”A nice piece of chocolate”

Cows nutrient intake must be sufficient, and in the case of a lactating dairy cow nutrients need to be available in abundance. The more cow eats dry matter, the higher milk yield can be achieved. Not only does high feed intake increase milk yield, but it also increases all total daily nutrient intake.

A healthy cow is an active cow, and proper feeding keeps her that way. She is not in ketosis or acidosis. When TMR feed is freely available, cows tend to eat numerous meals during the day until satiety. After a meal, they feel just like someone after a good lunch – although feeling full, a piece of chocolate would be nice.

When feeding is balanced by all aspects, including active eating, cows are healthy, perky, and high yielding. They visit the robot in order to get their treats (“a nice piece of chocolate”). While having that moment, they get milked. The yield of the milk depends on their genetics and the management in the cowhouse.

A cow wants to eat 12 times a day

For 50 kg milk, a dairy cow needs 30 kg dry matter balanced nutrition per day. The more regularly cow eats per 24 hour period the less is the variety in the rumen pH-balance. A Cow wants to eat 12 times a day and each time she wants to eat 30 minutes. The eating speed of the cow is 15 minutes per DM-kg. So the 50 kg milk needs 7,5 hours eating time per day. For that, the cow must go 10-12 rounds per day in the barn.

The pellets in the robot must smell delicious, taste good and, be palatable. It must not be flour or dusty. The pellets must keep their form from the store to the trough.

A cow must have a motivation for eating the pellets in the robot. When she arrives to the robot voluntarily and motivated, her focus is on the pellets. The eating in the robot is active and relaxed. Then the nutrition that is planned goes as it was meant to go.

A cow is eating

The most challenging is to do whole nutrition and management right and well

The amount of the pellets in the robot is about 10% of the milk yield. If the cow gives 30 kg milk she gets 3 kg pellets/day and if the amount of the milk is 50 kg she gets 5 kg pellets in the robot. The amount of the pellets must be shared so that the cow gets pellets every time she gets milked. Eating the pellets should not get more time than milking.

The most challenging is to do the whole nutrition and management right and well. Every day. That is why the nutrition must also be simple so that it does not vary between different people making it.

About author

Tiina Karlström

Certified CowSignalsMaster






Address: Isokatu 16 B 11. 90100 Oulu, Finland


David W Kammel, Madison, WI

Tel. +1 608 212-9901