Technology makes us better farmers
As a millennial, I grew up with technology. On our farm, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to use technology to help us produce safe, nutrient-rich milk. We currently have a couple pieces of equipment that help us every day.
The first is our robotic milking machines. We have four robotic milkers on our farm and to be candid — I love them. The robotic milkers’ technology helps us take better care of our cows because of the data it generates. We get all kinds of health information and different data to make sure cows are at optimal health, all the time.
With the robotic milkers, the cows have the flexibility to choose their own schedule. A cow that is inclined to make more milk can go to the robotic milker more often. That way, her udder never gets too full or uncomfortable. A cow who is getting ready to go into her dry period, when she takes a little vacation from milking before she has a calf, can go into the robotic milkers less often. The cows truly get to pick their own unique schedules. Each cow individually decides when she eats, lays down, drinks water and socializes.
The robotic milkers also give my husband and me freedom and flexibility that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I love to run and we have a family. I have an app on my phone that connects directly to the robotic milkers, so I can see everything that is going on with the cows while in the house with my family or out on a run. If there is something that needs to be checked, I’ll get a notification.
We also have an automatic feed pusher. Cows tend to eat the food closest to them. Every hour, the feed pusher goes through the feed alley in the barn and pushes the feed closer to the cows. This is a great help to us, because now that it’s done automatically, we don’t have to use a tractor to do it and it saves fuel costs. We always want to make sure the cows can reach their feed.
We also use technology to help us care for the calves. We have automatic calf feeders. The calves are grouped together in a big pen of calves around the same age and size. Just like the cows with the robotic milkers, they can go to the feeder when they want to eat. When the calf walks up to the feeder, the computer reads the ear tag and knows exactly which calf is wanting to be fed. If the calf has been fed very recently, no food is dispensed to ensure they only get the amount they need for that day. I am always checking the computer to see how much the calves are eating. If they’re not eating as much as usual, I check on them right away to make sure they’re feeling ok.
Overall, technology has made us much better dairy farmers; it allows us to be innovative and creative. This technology lets us continue doing what we love to do every day – producing locally-made, nutrient-rich milk for you to enjoy. Even with all of the technology we use, there is one thing that hasn’t changed around here: I’m still out on the farm every single day, caring for the animals and making sure they are healthy and comfortable.
Want to learn more about Michigan dairy farmers? Visit the Meet Our Dairy Farm Families page!