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Robotic Milkers Changing Dairy Farming

ROBOTIC MILKERAs a former dairy farmer I am amazed at the technology that has been developed just in the past few years. Being a dairy farmer one of the most time-consuming parts of your day was the actual milking of the cows. Today robotic milkers have been developed that allow the cow to go into the stall and be milked when she wants to. This has given dairy farmers a lot more time to do other chores or go to a son or daughter’s ballgame.

This is a picture of a robotic milker in action at Paul Duban’s farm just outside of Faribault. Paul has two robotic milkers in a new barn they moved into last August. Paul is very pleased with how quickly the cows adjusted to the robotic milkers and how they are performing. Each cow has a strap around its neck with an individual identification number.

When the cow goes into the robotic milker, the computer identifies the cow and gives her the amount of feed she is supposed to get. Sometimes cows go into the robotic milker but if she was milked a short time ago she will not get any feed or be milked again. She leaves the stall and another one moves in. It is really something to see watching a computer milk a cow.

When a cow came in the robotic milker, I saw red laser lights shining on her udder. The computer was determining where the teats were on the udder. Then brushes moved in to clean and sanitize the teats. Then the milkers moved in and attached to the teats and milked the cow. In addition to milking a cow, the computer has a “flag list” that tells the dairy farmer a certain cow might need special attention.

The computer keeps track of everything. Maybe a cow was being milked four times a day and yesterday she only was milked twice, or her feed consumption is down, maybe she is more active, indicating she is in heat. This “flag list” tells Paul he should check the cow and respond to whatever treatment she might need. You might think that robotic milkers are new and there is maybe only one in all of Minnesota. While they are new, they are being adapted very quickly by dairy farmers. I know of a number in our area.

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