Monday, May 18, 2015

Cows, like humans like the reward system.

Well, on Saturday morning, Brin, Ad, my father and I worked in the rain guiding the cows through the robot stalls once again.  I was quite impressed as it was a lousy day weather-wise, and my girls didn't whine one bit at being out there and helping.  My father and I were both soaked right through our jackets, hooded sweatshirts, shirts -- right down to skin.  The girls were also soaked badly.  We had plenty of snacks inside the flat barn for us to snack on as we worked with the cattle. Here in Lewiston we picked up a little over an inch of rain, per my cheap rain guage. 

It is getting easier to get the cows to go through the robot stalls.  They know there is a good tasting snack (similar to an Oreo for me) in there when they enter.  We were able to get 158 of 161 cows through Saturday.  The three sneaked through the gates and got past us.  We don't chase cows unless it is a necessity.  After we got the cows through and gates put away we all went in a had a good nap.

Sunday brought its own challenges.  From early in the morning robot #3, or Rich. as we have named that robot, has not been working. It kept having errors.  Number 3 may be the more important of the robots, since when it has its hopper full of grain, it won't call for the grain auger to run to fill the other hoppers for the other stalls.  I don't like bothering technicians after hours and especially on Sunday.  I had to have Johnny out most of the day.  Most things we tried were only temporary fixes.  It was frustrating.  I am glad I have the support of Johnny & Klark and their team as we get this project into phase 2 Tuesday & start milking.

 It was very interesting how smart cows are.  Most humans may not think that cows are that smart.  As soon as there is not a reward of grain for cows entering the stall, they stop coming.  Once Johnny's truck pulled up to fix things, the grain motors ran and there was a lot of activity once again around the flat barn.  Some cows figure things out in a hurry, just like humans.  It takes some cows a bit longer, just like humans. Some cows are more stubborn and not interested in progress nor change. You guessed it, just like humans.

The key principle of AMS is that when the cows come into the robot stall to get milked, they have to have the reward of good tasting, palatable grain.  Just like my wife training me to hang up the hand towels, an Oreo will usually do the job. Or like getting Bronco to eat his veggies, ice cream works. 
I love my cows. They are a ton of fun to watch and be around.  I sure hope our start-up tomorrow goes smoothly.  Sunday, as Bronco was with me most of the day, he reminded me of my younger self.  Walking through the cow pens, herding cows by himself.  He was a ton of fun to hang out with and just to watch him playing with the cows. 

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