Robotic Milkers Lets Farmers Leave Dairy

Amanda NolzAgribusiness, Training

This is certainly an interesting story about farmers who are tired of working hard and have come up with a solution to alleviate the labor intensive efforts put into a dairy farm. This article about an Iowa dairy family was published in the Chicago Tribune. Check it out!

Augie and Mike Baumann’s approach to milking their 240-head dairy cow herd is strictly hands-off. The father and son’s cows walk, unprompted, into a computer-controlled robotic milking station where the robotics install the udders and suction the milk. When finished, the cows walk back to their waterbeds and do what they do most of the time, which is take it easy.

Unlike humans, the robotic machine stands ready to milk 24/7. The farmer doesn’t need to be on duty at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily for the tedious and back-straining job of installing the udder cups onto each cow. The cow decides when it wants to be milked.

Augie Baumann said that since he began using the robotic system in February, his milk production is about 10 percent greater per cow than with the hand-controlled mechanical milking parlors that have been in widespread use on dairy farms since the 1950s.

Because of that greater yield and the reduced necessity for hired help, Baumann said he could justify the $600,000 he spent for the four robotic milking stations, about one-third more than the cost of hand-controlled parlor milkers. Robotic milking requires a specially trained herd. The Baumanns bred their own Holsteins, then put them each through a two- or three-day training exercise to get them used to rising on their own and walking to the milking station.