ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Dairy farming has been in my family for a long time. My mom was raised on an established 75-year dairy farm. Working early into the morning and late into the night was a ritual. Although I broke the tradition and never grew up on a farm, I recently had the opportunity to visit a dairy farm in Melrose, Minnesota that had a robotic milking system installed. This week I will be talking about the benefits of technology in the dairy industry and keys to success when using robotic milking systems.
Some of the reasons for transitioning to robotic milking systems are having a more flexible schedule, decreasing labor, and increasing the work that is given to family members instead of hiring out (Salfer, 2018). Labor-saving within the family gives the producer an option to allocate resources to other areas such as reproduction and crop management. Robotic systems benefit the producers in ways that go beyond the farm as well. Having a flexible schedule allows producers to spend more time with their family and friends. In addition to changing the allocation of resources on farm, the implementation of robotic milking systems has shown an increase in production. According to Jim Salfer, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, with an installation of robots, cows visited the system 2.5-3 times daily which resulted in 3-5 pounds of milk per cow.
When managed poorly, cows can lose production. At each stages of lactation, different feeds are delivered to each cow in the robot. The use of a specialized robot feed system results in a precise feeding schedule for each cow. Having an inconsistent diet will result in partial mixed ration (PMR) fluctuations which causes a decrease in cow visits to the robotic system. One of the major components of attaining a productive robotic system is keeping diet consistency. At different stages of lactation, the use of more than one robot feed results in a precise feeding schedule for the cows. In order to be successful with a robotic milking system, management is key. With appropriate management, robotic milking systems show personal as well as professional benefits for a producer.
This article (z.umn.edu/roboticmilkinghansen) can be accessed through the University of Minnesota Extension website. If you have questions about this or any livestock related topic, please reach out to your local Extension Educator. Residents in Stearns, Benton and Morrison Counties can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 320-255-6169 ext. 3.
— Emily Hansen, University of Minnesota Extension
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