Cow-Milking Robots Take Over Dairy Farms

cow milking robotsTimes are changing and thanks to advancements in technology, dairy-farming just got easier. No longer do dairy farms have to depend on farm hands to wash cow udders, hook milking machines up to each cow, wait for the cow to be milked, and then unhook the milking machine because now, cow-milking robots have taken over and do the job automatically when cows are ready to be milked.

Cow-milking robots have been used in Europe for quite some time but they are just now catching on in the United States. This is how they work – when a cow is ready to be milked, she will walk into a metal stall, which triggers the robot to take over. First, a laser scans a bar code on the cow’s transponder located on a collar around her neck. This helps the robot identify which cow it is preparing to milk. Then a specially flavored grain drops into a feeding trough in front of the cow so she can eat while she is being milked.

Next, an arm with rotating brushes swings under the cow and cleans each teat and the bottom of the udders. Then three different levels of lasers take over. The lasers scan and attach a milking nozzle to each teat and begin the milking process. The robot keeps track of information pertaining to each cow, such as their milk production, milking patterns, and teat location. If there is ever a problem with one of the cows, the robot will call the farmer. When the cow has been milked, the robot releases the nozzles and re-sanitizes the teats and udders. Then the feeding trough opens up and the cow is free to walk out of the stall so the process can start all over again with the next cow in line.

The Borden family in New York invested approximately $1.2 million on the cow-milking robots and the milking facility, and while that is a huge investment, the farmers say it has been well worth it and they are loving the new system. Farmers say while investing in the new milking system has been a leap of faith, they are hopeful they will be able to recoup their investment quickly thanks to rising dairy prices, which have been driven by demand for Greek yogurt and cheese exports to China.

Initially, the farmers worried that milk productivity would fall because the cows would be reluctant and skittish about the cow-milking robots. However, they were pleasantly surprised when the cows not only accepted the robots but caught on and were milking themselves in no time.

Having the cow-milking robots are not only a help to the farmers, but because they have taken over and can work around the clock, the dairy farm’s efficiency has greatly improved. In fact, farmers say using the robots enable them to accomplish more than three milkings per day using the same amount of labor it used to take to achieve only two milkings per day. In addition, the robots enable farmers to handle the dozens of other tasks that must be attended to on the farm while not having to worry about the cows getting milked.

However, the cow-milking robots are not the only new addition to take over dairy farms; another robot that resembles a gigantic Roomba slowly moves around the barn cleaning, and some farmers have robots out in the field that round-up the cows and herd them to the barn.

By Donna W. Martin

Sources:

Yahoo
NY Times
Green Bay Press Gazette

5 Responses to Cow-Milking Robots Take Over Dairy Farms

  1. Interested May 1, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I think these animals are treated quite well. My grandmother loved her cows, hugging each one as they came into the barn to be milked. Most farmers I know aren’t likely to go that far, but they aren’t likely to stress them, either. They graze on pasture land during the summer, and eat food that they like quite a bit during the winter – alfalfa is expensive, but cows produce more milk with it. The above farms are larger farms (in order to afford the robotics), but I’ve read elsewhere that these cows are producing more milk through ths system. That doesn’t happen when they are stressed, and they are very sensitive to stress.
    Animals are an important part of the life cycle. We should respect and care for those animals, and perhaps eat in moderation, going high quality/lower consumption than what we currently consume. However, their manure fertilizes land (when distributed responsibly), they eat on pasture land that would otherwise experience desertification, and they also eat other plants like legumes (alfalfa), that naturally place nitrogen into the soil. If we wanted to eat grain, we could go to the nearest grain elevator and purchase enough for a year, and have it cost only a day or two of your wages out of the year(if you live in North America). Grain, we have. Some vegetables are not available locally across colder locations, and one cannot survive on potatoes and grain alone.
    I won’t convince “Provoked”, but I can’t be convinced to give up meat, milk, or cheese either. I will work to ensure that these animals are given scientifically backed comfortable conditions.

    Reply
  2. Provoked April 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    There’s nothing the human body needs that it can’t get from plant based sources. Going to those sources directly, insures health, is less harmful to the environment and is certainly kinder to the cows and calves. The happy images in this article do not represent the truth about the harms involved in dairy production and consumption.

    Female cows are forcibly artificially inseminated to become pregnant and continue lactating. After 9 months, the dairy industry steals these baby calves shortly after they are born. The “worthless” males who can’t make milk are either killed immediately or kept in isolation for a few months to become veal. The unfortunate females calves follow their mother’s sad lot all the way to the last moments on the kill floor when they are no longer “productive”.

    With a fraction of fats and calories, great sources of calcium can be found in almond, rice, sunflower, hazelnut and soy milks… Most, just like dairy, are fortified with vitamin D. Calcium rich foods also include leafy greens, and a wide array of fruits, beans, grains and nuts.

    To get your nutritional needs by going through another animal first seems wasteful and ill advised. Please – Stop filtering your nutrition through others first. Eat smarter, live healthier – Go Vegan.

    Reply
    • Provoked May 1, 2014 at 9:42 am

      And these “comfortable conditions”… The continue right down the kill floor I presume?

      Reply
      • Interested May 1, 2014 at 9:50 am

        I accept that these animals will be killed, so that I may be nourished. For this they deserve respect while they are alive, and for this reason I think this food shoud never be wasted. You do not agree, and I accept this as well.

        Reply
        • Provoked May 1, 2014 at 10:13 am

          But your “choice” requires the exploitation of unwilling, third parties. If you were being victimized you’d want someone to speak on your behalf. Yes? There’s nothing “humane” or “kind” in killing innocent life when there are options not to do so. You may not ever see that plants are a more ethical food source… But odds are your grandchildren will! ;)

          Reply

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