Robotic Milking Machines

The kids were all home last weekend for a Saturday afternoon wedding.  Earlier that day, our neighbor was having an open house (or open barn) at their barn.  They had just updated their barn and milking system adding robotic milking machines.  We all decided to stop by and check it out.

The barns were amazing.  It was a hot day but inside they were cool and comfortable.

As you can see, one end of the barn is all fans blowing through the barn and keeping the cows comfortable.

The barns were all clean and not smelly.  When I was grown up and we were milking cows, summers in the barn were hot, stinky and sweaty….not here.

There’s a scrapper that runs on a very, very slowly system that is continually scrapping manure from behind the cows so it is very clean.

Kelli was wanting to kiss a cow apparently.

There was a huge brush that spun in a spiral.  If the cows came up to it, the brush would start to spin….kind of like a cow massage.  There were two of them there and they were in constant use.

You can see the white cow in the background getting her yellow brush massage.

The robotic milking machines were installed a couple months ago.  Right now, to get the cows adjusted, not all of the cows are being milked by the robotic milkers.  It’s a hard transition.  Some cows are slow to learn.  Some have special circumstances…and above all that, each robotic milker can only milk 60 cows a day.  Each robotic milker costs  $250,000.

Can you believe the costs?!  Our neighbors are making the expansion for several reasons, it is easier on the cows.  Cows can come and be milked up to six times a day.  They just get in line whenever they want and get milked.  There is a tag on their collar that allows the computer to read the cow’s information.

Our neighbors have children who are wanting to enter into dairy farming with them.  If more kids are coming back to college to farm, more income needs to be generated….in this case, more cows need to be milked.

Health reasons also played into consideration….if you live in farm country, you can spot farmers who milk cows.  Their knees are bad.  Even farmers who milk in  parlors seem to have bad knees from standing on the cement so much.

We got a quick sneak peak at the milkers but not enough for me to get a picture.  It was a small space and the line was long to get to see…so sorry readers.  No picture of the actual milkers.

I wasn’t going to make a blog post about this as I didn’t get the picture of the actual milkers but then I decided to write about it anyway….I think it’s good that people see what farming is really like.  So many people knock modern day farming as being industrial and factory to the animals.  It’s not way with the steers on the farm or with the dairy down the road.  Modern equipment has allow farmers to specialize and really get to know the breed of animals that they are working with.  People get frustrated thinking that farming is a factory…it’s really not that way.  Farmers now specialize and get the very best equipment available to keep the animals comfortable and to bring money back to the business.  It really isn’t any different than a doctor specializing in a particular field.

All in all, it was interesting and fun.  Part of me will always miss milking cows…then the other part of me will remind myself that it’s SO, SO much work!

12 thoughts on “Robotic Milking Machines”

  1. Thanks for sharing the 21st century barn photos! I am especially interested in the cow brush – wow, I had no idea there was such a thing.
    I am dealing more with the end product ( leather, mainly from bulls & steers) and we sure have our share of wild stories.

  2. Fascinating. I grew up on a farm and never saw anything like this. For that matter, I never heard of anything like that. Thanks for the post.

  3. Thanks for sharing this – so interesting! We live close to the SW Dairy Capital of the World, but I’ve never been to any of the Dairies. When I was in college, we had 6 weeks of dairy duty. You’re right, it was a lot of work! Funny, now we ranch. Farmer’s and ranchers give each other a hard time, but they’re both a lot of work. :)

  4. I am so happy to see these pictures. A friend of mine had posted a pic on facebook of a cow that had a bag so full she could hardly walk because it was dragging the ground. I guess these inhumane farmers give their cows hormones and antibiotics to force these cows to produce many times over the amount of milk it would normally produce. It was a horrible sight! So thank you so much for showing me how wonderful these cows are treated!.

  5. Wow, what a great post. I am a cow lover and I loved the photos and reading all about robotic milking machines and had no idea such a system existed. Great for the cows as they can just come and get themselves milked when they feel the need. The brush massager looks like it would be enjoyed by the cows who like to have a bit of a scratch.

  6. Thanks so much for your “real-life farming/ husbandry” posts. I’m delighted (and relieved) to hear & see these posts; I do worry about the unintended consequences of my purchases. Glad to hear about a dairy that is a bit of bovine spa! Thanks!

  7. Enjoyed the post and photos about the cows. I think farmers have very high costs and get little respect for their hard work in return. I have seen (from the roadway) a similar barn here in Nebraska and I wondered: do the cows ever get to go outside?

  8. Great post! I grew up on a dairy farm so find the robotic milking machines very interesting as the most innovative thing back then was the pipline for getting the milk from the machine to the milk tank. Which by the way we did not have. I find it interesting that the younger generation now wants to stay on the farm, my generation couldn’t wait to get away.

  9. I enjoyed your article about milking cows. We live in the very western tip of Kentucky and we milked cows. We had a parlor–but its a 24hour–7days a week job–feel good or not.
    Thanks for article.

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