2016 was a year of planning. We didn’t have very many big projects going on, so we focused on maintaining what we have. 2017 is going to be very different.
At the beginning of April, after a year of planning, construction began in our freestall barns to accommodate robotic milking machines, or robotic milkers. Robotic milkers are fully-automated milking machines that are right in the freestall barns with the cows, so we no longer need to send them to the milking parlor. Now, instead of the cows having a set time three times a day to be milked, they will be able to go over to the robotic milker and be milked when they choose. And, they are still able to eat and drink, lie down, and socialize whenever they want. This will be a great life for them.
Robotic milkers go through the same process of milking the cows as our current milking parlor does, but without human involvement. When the cow walks up to the robot, her teats are cleaned with brushes and disinfectant. After they are dried, lasers identify where her teats are, and the teat cups are attached and milking begins. While the cow is being milked, she is also able to eat.
As each quarter of the cow’s udder is done being milked, the teat cups come off individually, unlike in the milking parlor when all of the teat cups are removed at the same time. When the cow is completely done being milked, each teat is sprayed with disinfectant and the cow is free to leave the robotic milking area. The robotic milker automatically steam cleans the teat cups after each milking to make sure they’re clean for the next cow.
The installation should be done by October. By the time the project is completed, we’ll have thirteen robotic milkers. We are really excited about this new addition to the farm. It will change the way we do things here, and will ultimately make the cows’ lives even better.
Below is a video of how the new robotic milkers will work when they are done.