Monday, January 14, 2019

Small Dairy? Test Farm

The Times today had an article on a supposed small farm; actually a billionaire's test farm (i.e. playtoy given my cynical mood today) trying out various systems intended for small farms.

It's call Rivendale (it doesn't tweet much).

The article is frustrating--apparently  one person is mostly responsible for the 175 milking Jerseys, using an automated feeding system and $200,000 robotic milking systems.  The cows determine when they are milked (4 times a day) and produce 15 percent more.  But it's not clear whether it's their breeding or the milking system which is responsible for the gain.

What I'd like to know, among other things:

  • what's the expected life of these robotic systems? 3 year, 5 year, 8  years, 10 years? 
  • how much maintenance and downtime do they require?  my guess is 4 systems means that 3 systems can handle the 175 with the fourth providing for some backup and fudge factor.
  • what happens when Murphy's law strikes and the systems go down?  With the systems I grew up with, as long as you had electricity you could milk cows.  Without electricity, it was hand milking.
  • can the farmhand handle the technology or does it require a tech?
  • how does the feeding system handle the "non-processed feed" they claim to be using?
  • what's the overall picture--are the cows on pasture or is it a CAFO?

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