The story of optimizing a mega farm in Vietnam

20 May 2021

01


DESCRIPTION OF A MEGA DAIRY FARM

after three years of working with the farm. The implemented technology & methods led to better results than other similar farms of the company, the average milk ranges from 28 kilos in summer to 32 kilos in winter, the company decided to fire other consulting companies that supported their projects, and gave us responsibility for the company's two major projects. , Especially in the field of feeding and the interface of the farm

dairyfresh.asia was approached by an investment company in 2017, to join them in working on a new project of 4,000 cows in Vietnam, this was following and In light of dairyfresh.asia good results and previous reputation in knowing to take a lower yield farms and turn them into high productivity and profitable farms in Vietnam tropical conditions

The project was established by a foreign company and hosted 8000 livestock heads (4000 cows and rest is calves) , due to the sheer size, the farm was divided into two operational farms , each hosts 2000 dairy cows milked in a separate parlor, each farm has two dairy cows sheds, a dry cow shed and a hospital, Between the two farms is a feeding center that provides food for the entire project

First phase: the first farm was established and at end of 2017, 300 local cows from various Vietnamese farms arrived and gave birth two months later, as well as 1500 cows from the US. that were inseminated after the isolation period and most of them gave birth in mid 2018

The local cows who had given birth at the end of 2017 reached milk yield of 32 Kg per cow at early 2018, and the company was very pleased with the results considering the cows were brought from different local farms and were not the best cows in the origin farms.

Managing, not mention improving mega farms, is challenging due to the scale, financial impacts, and the need to test anything before on small population or be sure on what you do, any small issue not detected on time or mistakes can lead to catastrophic events,

Some of the technologies and practices used are described below, all of were monitored, managed and aided by computer software , analytics and sensors.

02


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

ANALYTICS & BI

Managing such large farm requires advanced monitoring and analytics.

The situation was that there were few different farms under same management and services, and each used different software so it was hard to get single view of what's happening. More than that there was now real-time, simple and visual way for management to understand situations in farm any take proactive or immediate actions

We have developed a unified analytics dashboard that Integrate between the various systems that work in the farm, The purpose of the the dashboard is to effectively monitor what is happening in the farm, and provide simple and visual alerts on issues. That allows an immediate and quick response to problems that develop in the farm in real time, as well as be able to analyze backward root causes and conclusions

03


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

SILAGE

One the first problems we had to improve and implement in the farm was the subject of silage, as we started to work in the farm , silage was already made in the farm in a poor and defective manner , this later resulted in severe morbidity of the new high quality cows that arrived from the USA which got pastorale lung disease, morbidity began to do serious damage, and some heifers got dead.

From our experience we knew that the disease of the pastoral is opportunistic, the bacterium exists in the body and is under control as long as the animal is not under stress, high levels of stress of all kinds (nutritional stress, environmental stress like poor ventilation, heat load and high humidity) leads to injury In the immune system, then the bacterium gets out of control and develops acute pneumonia and the cow or calves dies less than 24 hours from the moment of diagnosis.

We recognized that the stress comes from the silage, and decided to replace a silage pit and to adapt the nutrition formula and add a toxin absorber to stop the disease.

The lesson learned was that the quality of the silage in the farm must be improved, and following the lung disease incident and our pressure to improve the quality of the silage in the farm, the company invested in heavy equipment and cutting systems to improve the souring process to achieve better milk and herd health results.

04


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

GROUPING & FEEDING

Changing the methods of feeding and dividing the groups in the farm made an impact.

In other farms , the cows are divided into groups according to the time from the calving and the amount of milk they make (which creates increased herd movement and impairs the milk yield of the cows),

We implemented a method of division, with one basic ration that feeds 95% of the herd (95% eat one serving throughout the calving period except for the first month of calving), the change is measured in relation to the existing method, and over the years it has been proven that the method we implemented works better, the cows' milk is higher, food utilization is better. (although the planned ration was many times more expensive) it resulted less health issues and less cow removal

05


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

COOLING

Cooling in the waiting yard and dedicated cooling yard - When we came to the farm they used to cool the cows between the milkings in the stall, and the problem is that the ventilation in the farm was not suitable and can not provide effective cooling for the cows.

We suggested changing the cooling method to be in the waiting yard. which was proven to be much more effective, and in 2019 the company invested in cooling in the waiting yards for all farms and the protocols were changed accordingly so that cows were sent 3 to 4 times a day to the cool at the waiting areas (3 or 4 in addition to milking), to mitigate the negative effect of heat load on the cows (important to note other options for heat load treatment, but the company chose this specific method because it is cheaper, but there may be solutions that could also give better results)

06


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

NUTRITION

One of the points we identified during the working the farm was that using fresh corn-grass instead of corn-silage in the summer actually harm cows digestion, because corn quickly starts to ferment in a stall and raise the temperature thereby reducing the appetite of cows in the summer.

So we prepared food using good quality stable silage will raise the cow's appetite & milk (poor quality silage hurt results will not improve them) .

The freshness of the ratio and timing of food distribution also contributes to appetite and milk yield, we found that in hot summer days cleaning of the stalls in the evening and distribution of fresh food at night greatly increases the appetite of cows during the night after night milking and also improves appetite in the morning. 

We have added supplements to the ration whose main purpose is to improve the function of the stomach, these products are of great importance in the non-optimal conditions that exist in Southeast Asia for cows, the stomach is very sensitive and has serious consequences for cows' health when the stomach does not function properly.

07


INCORPORATED FARM IMPROVEMENTS:

COW'S COMFORT

This issue that still requires a lot of improvement in the aforementioned farm is the issue of cow's comfort, sheds are free stall based with mattresses. however, as they dont have enough and extra padding, it cause issues. The mattress in principle is not the best solution for cows comfort, even though they are often used due to their advantage of simplicity in operation, but for Southeast Asian humid and wet conditions it is even more problematic, because the mattress does not absorb fluids, residues of milk, urine and manure remain on the mattress and in the heat and humidity, they become a great host for bacteria that cause pneumonia and knee infections, residing on a rubber mattress causes cows to lose hair, and bacterial penetration underneath the bare skin.

This make cows pain, make it difficult to sleep, and this result is reduced appetite and milk of cows. We understood that it is a limiting factor on the performance of farms and have to consider and improve the conditions for the cows to obtain milk production higher

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