Big Tech in Dairy

Dairy farming is more than collecting milk, and today’s equipment options reflect that. Dairy farmers and their workers have full schedules each day. The larger the herds, the more help needed with dairy farming’s day-to-day operations. To aid with the production and costs of dairy farming, a larger farm may be home to amazing technology consumers don’t know exist. From helping focus labor to providing extra luxuries to cows, this technology helps dairy farmers efficiently run their farm and control resources. Here are a handful of the different technologies that a modern dairy farmer may choose. 

Feed Robots 

It’s hard when your nose gets in the way of your food or, even worse, knocks a particularly yummy-looking selection out of reach. Instead of workers regularly coming through the barns to push the feed, some farms feature tech that continuously pushes feed up to the cows so they have a constant supply of food available. 

There’s also tech that automates food delivery. Cows can receive (within reason) as much food as they want when they want it. For the young ones, automated calf feeders provide nutrition by adjusting for the specific calf’s age as they wean off milk.  

Milking Machines 

Cows are milked two to three times a day, and not by hand. Cows know when it’s time for a milking and line up at the milk parlor to be attached to the milkers that gently suck the milk out of the udders, waiting patiently while workers clean their udders. To reduce the time spent milking and cleaning the parlor, some dairy farms use a rotary milker, where cows essentially wait to ride a carousel to be milked and cleaned. They look forward to their milking times twice or thrice a day! 

Another milking method is through robotic milking. Cows are given access to robotic milk systems in their barn 24 hours a day, choosing when it’s time to be milked. Building off past data (and lasers!), equipment identifies the cow once she enters, sanitizes the udder, gently collects the milk and releases the cow when she is done milking, possibly giving her a treat of pellets. This lets the cow milk the normal 2 or 3 times a day, but it also means she can milk more if needed. 

Tracking Collars and Ear Tags 

Technology is nothing without the accessories. Electronic ID collars with a tracking chip give dairy farmers vital information about the cow, tracking everything from the number of times she chews her cud in a day to how much milk she makes. Fitbit-like pedometers worn by cows send updates about the daily activities of herds and send a notification when there’s a potential problem.  

This information combined with other systems like automated feeding and milking data helps monitor animal health. Tracking milk yields, feeding habits and the daily exercise of each cow provide individualized data that can be used in the early detection of changes in routine that may relate to their health or comfort. Being in the know helps farmers know the happenings on their farm, even helping detect when a cow is going into labor! 

Automatic Brushers 

Cow comfort is important, too! Cows live in barns with fans and misters that keep them cool. Their bedding is made of materials that are easy to clean and recycle so they always have a clean bed to sprawl on, perhaps even a waterbed. Equipment is run regularly to clean the floors of the barn to remove mud and muck. This and all the tech above benefits cows by ensuring they receive the best individualized care they can without learning to speak English, but they won’t complain about extra comforts. A fun addition that may be included are automatic brushers. These brushers are placed around the barn. When a cow has an itch she just can’t scratch, she walks up and starts the brushes. These brushes may be used on cows, but they can be such hogs about their automatic scratcher. 

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