GreenFeed - Large - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Under current COVID-19 pandemic how does C-Lock provide the installation, training and daily support?

A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions, C-Lock suspended the on-site installation and training for international clients until further notice. Instead, we provide remote technical support for user self-installation, including paper-based instruction, demonstration videos and online engineer real-time supervisor. We'll also provide an US standard tool box for clients to self-install the C-Lock equipment, and followed with a one-day online user training course. Other than mentioned above, daily technical and data support are provided remotely as usual.

Q: Can GreenFeed equipment also be built into already existing feed bins or automatic milking systems?

A: So far, C-Lock have only installed three GreenFeed units into only the Lely A3 robots - two at Michigan State University, and one in Finland. Alternatively, we have installed almost 300 normal GreenFeed systems all over the world, and we find they are relatively easy to incorporate into existing dairy systems.

Overall, when GreenFeed is installed in the milking robot, they don't produce as high quality of results as the normal GreenFeed because of the cow's head movement behavior in the robot. In Huhtanen et al (2015), about 30% of the cattle could not be measured by GreenFeed in the dairy robot because some cows systematically refused to keep their head inside the feed trough. Sample dilution is the primary concern - we have only installed the GreenFeed the A3 because in most other models and brands of the milking robot, the feed troughs are so open that the GreenFeed system cannot work at all. The problem we noticed in milking robots is a matter of animal behavior, neither GreenFeed nor other methods can solve it properly at the moment.

Therefore, we usually recommend that potential customers use a normal GreenFeed, even if they already have a milking robot. GreenFeed can function well as a concentrate feeder independent of the milking robot.

Q: What is the capacity of a GreenFeed (number of animals measured by one unit)?

A: Under the free-stall barn condition, about 20-25 lactating dairy cows per GreenFeed unit; Under pasture grazing condition, 15-20 cows per unit if clients would like to get sufficient recordings from per animal per day.

Q: What is in practice the recommended training period for cows?

A: In general, it will depend on the animals you use. Some groups of animals are quickly trained to use GreenFeed without doing anything (they learn themselves), some other animals are more difficult to train, especially for the ones that haven't been around machinery before. We'll provide the GreenFeed users a progressive training system during the on-site training. By applying this training system, most of the animals will adapt within 2-3 days.

Q: In practice not all cows get used to the GreenFeed equipment. Does C-Lock have an idea about the proportion of animals that refuse?

A: For the difficult animals, well, first we can try to force them to use GreenFeed without other animals nearby, and manually drop several times of feed from the system to let the animals know they can get feed by visiting, in this way we can solve the problem from shy cows. We can also force them inside the alleyway and hold until they eat (be careful – only smaller animals), because some animals refuse GreenFeed just because they are afraid of the alleyway, but the GreenFeed unit. If all these afford cannot solve the problem, we just recommend to forget this animal and try some backup cows.

Q: What is the operational cost of a GreenFeed? What service is C-Lock Inc providing and at what cost? Do we also need to pay some license fees?

A: Clients don't need to buy an extra computer to control their GreenFeed units, they can control the units by using the online user interface via laptop or smartphone. The annual maintenance cost of each unit is equal to 10% of the price. The annual maintenance covers the costs of continuous monitoring of performance, data review and quality control, friendly and fast customer service, free part-replacement service, software updates and data storage. We also offer discounts if more than one year is purchased at a given time according to the following schedule:

- One or two years: no discount

- Three or four years: 10% discount on the total amount

- Five years or more: 20% discount

Q: What is the delivery time of a GreenFeed?

A: In most cases after C-Lock receives the purchase order and deposit payment, it'll take about 90 days for production, and another about two to three weeks for delivery via air freight/ 40 to 60 days for delivery via ocean freight.

Q: It has been reported that GreenFeed needs a moderate number of visits (20-30) before getting a reliable estimate for CH4 emission (g/d). How does C-Lock estimate this? Will GreenFeed average all individual visits during a specific time (e.g. a week), or will GreenFeed estimate the average once a minimum number of visits has been reached?

A: The general GreenFeed sampling strategy is to attract each animal to the baiting station several times per day at random intervals. After several days, emissions at varied times of the day can be precisely defined. The sampling interval for each animal can be controlled by controlling the time interval in which the animal received the bait. Statistically, gathering large numbers of samples over long time periods significantly reduces uncertainty. Within a week of GreenFeed sampling, each animal’s diurnal pattern and average emission rates can be determined with a high level of certainty.

Q: How does Greenfeed work in winter? At what outside temperature are there problems with the measurement?

A: Standard GreenFeed system can work very well within the temperature range from +40 to -20 degrees Celsius. For the extremely cold environment, such as the high latitude Nordic countries and Canada, C-Lock developed a cold weather kit for the GreenFeed users there, which includes heated manifold, dish, and cold weather durable wiring.

Q: Which animal-specific data does C-Lock need for the calculation of the methane excretion per day (feed intake, milk yield ... etc.)?

A: The experimental animals will be identified by the RFID ear tags/neck collars, and you don't have to record any other animal parameters for the GreenFeed unit measurement and recording.

Q: Does the client retain ownership of GreenFeed measured data?

A: Yes, the clients have the ownership of all the raw and analyzed data recorded by their GreenFeed units.

Q: Can GreenFeed do measurement on animals with horns?

A: Yes, C-Lock designed a special "Horned Animal Shell" for clients to measure the gas emission from horned animals.

Q: Which are the GreenFeed measurement ranges for CO2, CH4, O2 and H2?

A: CO2: 0 – 2%;

CH4: 0 – 4,000 ppm;
O2: 0 – 100%;
H2: 0 – 1,000 ppm.

Q: Do we have the ability to get data directly off the device for locations where there is no Wi-Fi or cell coverage. If so, how much data can the system hold?

A: If an internet signal is not available, GreenFeed can be easily adapted to collect data on a USB drive that a user manually changes periodically to collect and download the data. However, it is much better to operate GreenFeed using an internet connection than by downloading files from a USB drive.