Monday, September 17, 2012

Robot-Ready Cows? Humane Dairying

Having just posted on dairy, I might as well go whole cow.

Here's an interesting piece on the extensive adoption of robots in dairying (I owe a hat tip, but not sure to whom).  Some excerpts:
Many dairy kids [like me] leave the farm because they see their parents slave away in milking parlors twice a day, seven days a week, with never a vacation or even a break for the children's baseball games. With robots, a mechanical arm handles the milking and each cow chooses its own routine, leaving farmers with more time for family and flexibility for other chores.  
Groetsch says the gamble was worth it. The family's small squadron of farm droids, which includes a mechanical cow-back scratcher and an automatic feed pusher, has turned their barn into a 24-hour operation, with less hired help.
The 3,000-pound, red robo-milkers work around the clock, except for twice-daily cleaning sessions. They also eliminate the chore of corralling cows for milking: After being trained to accept the robot, cows get milked whenever they please. The robot measures their production and knows if a cow needs to be milked more or less often
Immigration has a role here; the Dutch are pioneers in dairy technology, Hispanics have more and more come to find their place as hired help on dairy farms.

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