A while back I wrote about what a cow’s typical day looks like on our farm. Now, for about 800 of those cows, the days look a little bit different. With the addition of the robotic milkers, our cows have a much more leisurely lifestyle.
The main change in our cows’ daily routine is that they don’t have set times to be in the parlor anymore. Now, they can walk to be milked whenever they want during the day. If the cows don’t go up to the milker by themselves, they are put on a list called the “fetch” list, and someone guides them to the robotic milker. Aside from that, they have total freedom as to when they go to the milking machine. The cows have even more time for eating, resting and socializing than when we had them on the parlor milking schedule.
Instead of the cows being away from their pens for around three hours per day, they are now in their pens walking around constantly. Because we renovated our freestall barn to accommodate the robotic milking machines, the cows still have all the same housing perks they had before — fans keeping them cool in the summer, curtains that go up and keep them warm in the winter and constant shade and protection from the outdoor elements. Of course, they still have their free-choice buffet all day long.
The other routines the cows have had are also the same as they were before. Every Tuesday, the veterinarian comes for herd health, where he does consulting, checks the cows for pregnancies, does ultrasounds and makes note of anything we need to be aware of. Twice a year the cows get their hooves trimmed to keep their feet healthy, so that they can continue to get to their feed, water and the robotic milker easily and comfortably.
So far, the cows have been happier than ever with the new robotic milking machines and their new lifestyle!