On Dairy Farms, Robots Lend A Helping Hand

USA - It's Betsy meets R2D2. Farmers lower costs and produce more milk using fully automated systems.
calendar icon 25 September 2006
clock icon 1 minute read

For eight generations, dairy farmers at Mason Dixon Farms in Gettysburg, Pa., have milked cows. It's been the same routine several times a day, 365 days a year, for more than 100 years. But now, finally, farmer Richard Waybright gets a break.

Mason Dixon Farms has installed 10 robots to milk 500 of its 2,100 cows. The DeLaval Voluntary Milking System--called "voluntary" because cows return to the system on their own--has reduced the farm's labor costs by 75% and raised milk production by 15%, says Waybright, president of the farm. He plans to buy 30 more robots to milk the rest of the herd. "Robots don't get sick, need health insurance, have birthdays, get drunk, and they always show up," Waybright says.

Robotic milking systems are being used increasingly by U.S. farmers to cut labor costs and improve efficiency. The systems, already popular in Europe and Canada, eliminate the need for farm workers to round up the animals, connect them to equipment, and manually track milking times and yield. Each robot does about 175 milkings per day, with the average bovine producing about 100 pounds of milk daily. Robotic milking takes eight minutes, a minute or two less than with milking systems that require manual help.

Source: Informationweek.com

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