The Kepples’ DeLaval robotic milking machine runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the computer keeps track of each cow’s status – when it was last milked, when it’s scheduled to be milked again and how much milk it’s likely to produce. Each cow is milked two to four times a day and is identified by a transponder on its collar.
The transponders measure when the cows are next due to be milked to their activity level throughout the day. When there’s a spike in activity level, that generally means the cow is in heat, and because cows have to give birth to calves to produce milk, knowing when they can become pregnant is important.
The first time a cow enters the milker, the computer learns where the cow’s teats are located, so with each subsequent milking, the robot knows exactly where it’s going so it can milk the cow quickly.
On a cool morning in mid-September, some of the Kepple family’s 350 cows were queued up to enter the robotic milkers.
Cows serenely walked into the robotic milking chamber, where they were fed a molasses-laced feed.
“That’s what their incentive is,” Mike Kepple said.
Not that the cows seemed to mind the process. They stood quietly while the robot located their teats using lasers, then washed them with warm water and soap and swabbed them with iodine before attaching hoses to the cows’ teats to begin milking.
While the cow is being milked, a screen on the milker shows the expected and total yields of milk from that cow. When the cow leaves the chamber, the screen reads, “waiting for cow.”<< previous 1 2 3 4 next >>