For years, the effects of in-parlour feeding have been a hot topic among dairy farmers, dairy equipment dealers, feed consultants, and scientists. There are usually proponents and opponents of using in-parlour feeding, based on various experiences. At the moment, an increasing number of cattle farmers are opting for in-parlour feeding.
In order to obtain a clear view of the effects of in-parlour feeding, Hanskamp AgroTech recently commissioned a literature study on the topic. The study looked at the most important conclusions regarding the effects of in-parlour feeding, which have been published in various scientific studies. These studies reveal that in-parlour feeding can be very beneficial financially, due to increased oxytocin levels and the resulting increase in milk production.
Oxytocin and milk yield go hand in hand. The hormone oxytocin causes the release of milk from the udder's bosom. A constant stream of oxytocin is required to fully empty an udder. There are various options to stimulate oxytocin production. Mechanical stimulation (or tactile stimulation) has a positive effect on oxytocin production. Another way to induce the release of the hormone is feeding during milking. In-parlour feeding stimulates the production of oxytocin, which, when released, will trigger the milk production. By feeding at the start of the milking session, the cow will eject her milk faster. In-parlour feeding not only speeds up milk production, it also increases milk yield and shortens the duration of the milking session.
In-parlour feeding also has a positive effect on "cow traffic". The feeding lures the cows, causing them to enter the milking parlour easier and quicker. As a result, cows will enter the milking parlour on their own, without the stress of being forced. An additional benefit is that farmers no longer need to go into the holding area to get cows, which saves time.
On average, in-parlour feeding will cause an 8% increase in milk yield, in-parlour feeding therefore results in an economic advantage. For a company with 80 dairy cows and an annual milk production of 8000 litres per cow, in-parlour feeding can increase annual milk production by over 600 litres per cow. At an average milk price of €0.34, that adds up to an economic advantage of over €16,000. That figure can become increased further using individual in-parlour feeding. Individually managing concentrate distribution allows each cow's performance to be fine-tuned.
The literature study summarised all of these published studies with a source listing, and the general conclusion is that in-parlour feeding has a positive result.