The calculator can be used in two ways:
You can enter your current details and the calculator will predict a herd milking time. If this number is significantly less than your current milking time, it highlights that improvements can be made to your milking routine, for example by improving cow flow.
Alternatively you can use the calculator to estimate the size of the improvements to milking efficiency you can make by changing your milking strategy (e.g. introducing MaxT).
How do I use the calculator?
- Download and open the spreadsheet.
Note: Ensure 'Herringbone' is selected in the bottom left hand corner.
- Enter your farm details in the dark grey boxes (herd size, shed size etc).
Note: you may need to click “enable editing” in the yellow ribbon across the top of the window.
- All the dark grey boxes in the left hand column must be filled in.
Note: roll the mouse over the cell (red triangle) for a more detailed explanation of each box.
- Select the post-milking strategy you use at each milking.
- The light grey boxes in the middle and right hand columns are a prediction of key measures for the morning and afternoon milkings; particularly focus on the cows/operator/hr which determines the total labour hours.
- Download and open the spreadsheet.
Understanding the results
- Do a quick logic check of the results – are there any impossible results e.g. a herd milking duration of 10 hours. If there are problems, check back to the input boxes. Note that the number of operators is predicted by the model and cannot be entered.
- In the herringbone, the model estimates a cow milking time based on the milk yield for each milking as determined by what has been entered in box c) and d). It them compares the time it will take for an operator to complete the tasks, as determined by boxes b) and e). If this time is greater than the milking duration of the slower cows, then it assumes a second operator is required. If you believe the model is overestimating the number of operators then this indicates you may be over-milking cows, or you can adjust the core work routine down until you get the desired result.
- The model determines a maximum potential given the values that have been entered, so it is likely that your actual performance will be slightly lower. If the actual performance is well below what the model has predicted then it is possible that poor cow flow may be reducing efficiency. See the design pages or Milking Smarter workbook for herringbones to help diagnose problems.
- Next, explore different end-of-milking strategy to determine if your milking efficiency can be improved further. The graphs at the bottom of the page give you an indication of the range in potential performance for a number of situations. Pay particular attention to the yellow box, total labour hours. This is a combination of the estimated time to milk the herd, and the number of operators required.
Suggested things to try
If the model has estimated there is significant idle time, try changing the post milking strategy.
Applying MaxT or increasing the ACR threshold will help reduce idle time.
Note that for MaxT the model assumes that the slowest 20% of cows will have milkings shortened. This may result in another operator being added.
In practice, it is likely to be more appropriate to only shorten the slowest 10% of cows rather than adding another operator.
Or, if you believe that the operator’s milking routine can be streamlined as well (e.g. more efficient routine or installing an automatic teat sprayer) then adjust this value down to remove the additional operator.
Compare the number of total labour hours in your new scenario compared to what you started with. Refer to MaxT and efficient milking routines for more information.
Finally, try out the new scenario at home. The great thing about these changes is that you can get immediate feedback on its success.
The MaxT strategy can increase the number of cows milked an hour in many dairies, find out more here.
Making sure cows are comfortable while entering and exiting the dairy as well as during milking, will have big benefits for cow flow and efficiency.
How milkers work together will determine how many cows can be milked an hour, and an efficient milking routine is especially important in large herringbone systems.