Automatic drafting gates provide a very labour efficient and stress free means of separating individual cows from the dairy herd that need individual attention. Dairy cows regularly need individual attention for a variety of reasons including: artificial insemination, hoof trimming, pregnancy diagnosis, veterinary examination or for separating high yielding cows from the main herd for night-time housing. To manually separate individual cows from their herd mates can be both time consuming and stressful for the cow and for the dairy farmer.
On dairy farms where drafting gates have been installed, it is likely that cows will be given more timely individual attention as a result of the ease with which individual cows can be separated from the herd. All modern milking equipment suppliers and a range of specialist handling equipment suppliers manufacture automatic drafting equipment which can be operated either by standalone computer software or fully integrated as a module within a computerized milking equipment software system.
Links to animal sensors
Individual animals can be sorted from the milking parlour pit as they leave the milking parlour, or the farmer can pre-program the management software to separate a group of cows after milking at a future date and time to coincide with a scheduled veterinary visit for example. Some milking equipment software management systems allow cow data dependent algorithms to be set-up to automatically separate a cow into a holding pen if cow sensors connected to the software management system indicate that the cow is on heat and eligible for artificial insemination according to her calving and breeding history.
Automatic drafting systems can have two-way, three-way or multi-directional sorting options. The most common automatic sorting systems are 2-way and 3-way sorting systems.
CAFRE Dairy Centre
The 3-way automatic drafting gate in the CAFRE Dairy Centre is positioned just before the central cross-over passage of the cubicle house. A cow can be automatically drafted either from management lists set up in the parlour herd management software or directly from the milking parlour.
The drafting gate can be set to:
- Draft a cow to the left into a holding pen e.g. for artificial insemination, hoof trimming or veterinary treatment.
- Draft a cow to the right into the cubicle house e.g. for night-time housing of high yielding cows.
- Allow cows to walk straight through the gates
From the automatic drafting gate, cows drafted to the left into the segregation pen, initially walk in the same direction as their herd mates as they move into the pen. This helps to ensure that drafted cows do not congregate around the drafting gate which could block the flow of cows and/or reduce the accuracy of drafting. Drafted cows have access to water while they wait to be treated or examined.