Four cow routing treatments related to fully automatic milking were compared consecutively in one group of 24 Holstein Friesian cows. The objective of the experiment was to investigate how cow traffic towards the automatic milking system (AMS) should be routed and whether a preselection or a waiting area in front of the AMS should be used. The treatments were (1) free routing with selection of cows in the AMS (FREE); (2) free routing with a preselection system in front of the AMS (FREE_SS); (3) free routing with a preselection system and a waiting area in front of the AMS (FREE_WA); and (4) one-way gates resulting in forced routing with preselection and a waiting area in front of the AMS (FORCED_WA). Evaluation of the treatments revealed that FREE may be questionable with regard to the cows' visiting frequency to the AMS and that the use of a waiting area in combination with free routing (FREE_WA) may slow down the passing through the AMS. FORCED_WA may be the best option in relation to the cows' use of the AMS, but this traffic system seems to postpone or even thwart the feeding. The treatment that appears to give the best results is FREE_SS. The type of AMS visit appeared to have a marked influence on the cows' subsequent behaviour. Cows returned to the AMS sooner after non-milking visits and failed attachments ( P <0.01). This increases the occupation rate of the AMS and may induce some extra unrest in the herd.
|Journal||Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section A-Animal Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|