Anyone who has done any sort of building project knows that it takes time. When you build a house, it might take six months to actually build, but before you start building, you have all of the contractor and vendor meetings. You have to pick out all of your finishes and flooring. Eventually, you just want it to be finished so you can enjoy what you built.
We’re at that point now with our robotic milker construction. We spent a year planning – touring farms, figuring out how to retrofit the barns, deciding when we would get started, meeting with businesses, the list goes on.
By December or January, we’re hoping that the cows will be accustomed to the new milking system. In January, some of the cows who started on the robots this summer will be having calves. It will be interesting to see how they do coming back into production to be milked on the robots instead of in the parlor.
Even though we’re looking forward to having all thirteen of the robots online and working, we know it won’t be smooth sailing right away. We are already mentally preparing for the first cold snap of the year. You can have things as prepared as possible, but as soon as the first cold snap comes – that first night of ten below – things break or don’t work as well as they should. The robotic milkers are made to work, but we have to learn where the “problem” parts will be. This knob or that elbow fitting. After the first cold snap, the next ones will be a little bit easier because we’ll know what areas to really focus on.