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You know the feeling of a steady flow
All of you who work with cows know what a steady flow means for efficiency. We know it from the milking parlour and the carousel. The cows get into a calm steady rhythm, the work slides quietly all the time, the cows go out themselves and the next group is ready when you are ready. It repeats at a steady pace throughout the milking.
In the same way, most people know the benefits of fixed rhythm and flow when it comes to ensiling. There is a cutter and wagons are loaded and drive home to the bunker silo, where it fits perfectly with the capacity to level out and press the grass before the next wagon arrives.
In the processes that run with a fixed constant flow, the efficiency is high. It may be that it looks calm and relaxed, but it is in those situations that are made the most.
Can it be transferred to fixed weekly groups?
Yes, it can! If you can create a constant flow in the number of animals, you move every week in the different groups, then you will experience the same calm. When you move 8 animals in the same group of animals every week, everything will gradually fit: You get a trailer that fits one ride, you get box sizes that fit, you get a rhythm in washing and moving that just gives calm and rhythm in the work procedures.
We are missing tools!
There is no tradition of doing production planning in cattle farming. I have tried to search for the word PRODUCTION PLANNING on dairy cattle websites, but nothing comes up.
Nor are any of the tools we use in DMS (Danish management software) that can be used to plan production week by week 1-2 years ahead. I have visited many production companies over time and they all have a system for their production planning ahead of time on a daily or weekly basis. Why do we not have it?
The forecast in DMS runs on a monthly basis and cannot really be used for dynamic planning. If you have to use it, then you have to fiddle with the data feed. The forecast was invented at a time when we had quotas and it still bears the mark of it.
It is obvious to use the insemination plan
Reproduction is a very central part of production planning. How many heifers should be used and when. Therefore, I think it is obvious to use the insemination plans actively in leveling out production. But it does not happen. It is possible to calculate whether there are enough heifers, but not possible to place them in the right weeks. It is also not part of VikingDanmark’s vision or goals, so there is nothing to say about it.
VikingDanmarks vision: Viking leverer værdi til kvægbrugeren gennem kvalitetsgenetik, individuel rådgivning om avl og reproduktion samt salg af kvægrelaterede specialprodukter. Kilde: www.vikingdanmark.dk
Jeg har også søgt på, hvad formålet med insemineringsplanerne er og har fået følgende i et undervisningsmateriale fra 2020 (www.vikingdanmark.dk):
- The breeding progress of the breed is maximally transferred to the herd
- Avoid inbreeding
- Functional cows (priority characteristics)
- High-index animals are inseminated with bull fathers
And as VikingDanmark itself writes: “The insemination plan is a unique tool for breeding cows that live up to your exact requirements and wishes”. However, I wish the insemination plan also helped level out the production.
“Jeg kunne dog godt ønske mig, at insemineringsplanen også hjalp til med at udjævne produktionen“
The insemination plans are “passive”.
I have worked with production flow at a farmer who told me that they had had 75% beef cattle calves for a month. One might say that they might have seen through it, but they had followed the insemination plan without noticing it. The insemination plan does not relate to the fact that there may be weeks when calving is missing. It is the status of the animals that determines. That is why I call them “passive” in relation to production planning.
A breeding plan can look like this:
- 60 % beef cattle
- 37,6 % sexed semen (X-vik) for the cows
- 100 % sexed semen (X-vik) for the heifers
There may also be requirements for udder and legs as well as NTM (breeding ranking). So it is the status of the animal that determines whether it should be dairy cattle heifers or beef cattle cross-breeds.
An active plan in relation to production planning
I would like the plans to be made active in relation to the production plan. This means that in the insemination plan you can plan to have more dairy calves born, so that they can calve into the weeks when there are too few calvings.
It should also be the case that in months with a lower pregnancy rate due to heat stress, e.g. can have more heifers born, so 2 years later you have more to inseminate.
That is certainly the next step
We are constantly working to achieve higher productivity and lower production costs. Customers no longer pay for the milk just because we can not figure out how to streamline production and work efficiently. That is why the costs of production is so important and here a constant production flow with fixed weekly groups definitely comes in as the next step.