Milkbots: A New Wave of Machine Automation For Farmers?

By New York Times

Note to Farmhands: You are no longer needed in your same capacity.  Due to a new wave of machine automation-robotic milkers-cows can now milk themselves at their leisure.

Late night and early morning shifts of milking cows is over. And the cows enjoy the freedom as well.

Basically cows are wired with transponders around their necks. Machine lasers monitor the cows unerbellies, and chart the rate at which each cow milks.

The machines also monitor other important specifics including how much each cow eats, the amount of times a cow goes to the machine each day, and how many steps the cow takes during the day, which can predict when cows are in heat.

Milking parlors with old turntables that allowed for mass milking for years past are starting to show their age, and farm owners are seeing the benefit of installing milkbots on their farms.

Smaller farmers, however, need to decide if the investment is worth it. The machines can cost up to $250,000 not including farm adjustments to make room for the machines.

The good news lies with the current and future generations because mechanized and automated systems are more familiar.

"We're used to computers and stuff, and it's more in line with that," Mike Borden, a 29-year-old and a seventh-generation dairyman, told the New York Times.

His farm has recently upgraded to the robots, among others.

One of the main advantages of milkbots is the cost factor.  While the bots are an initial investment, farmers will pay less fees for labor, health insurance, room and board, long hours and workers' compensation.

But the machines don't leave the farmers worry-free.

"It's a machine, so it breaks down," Borden also told the New York Times. "But people get sick, too."

The original article can be found via the New York Times website here.


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