The milk then goes into a tank in an adjacent building and is picked up daily to be processed and pasteurized by Colteryahn Dairy in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carrick.
“The milk truck comes every day and picks it up,” Mike Kepple said.
Jim Kepple said the farm produces about 1,400 gallons of milk a day. He said production went up about 10 percent after the robotic milkers were installed.
Everything in the system can be tweaked to suit the family’s operation, Jim Kepple said, from how long the robot washes the cows’ teats to how long it milks them.
If the cow requires medical treatment, he gets an alert on his phone when the cow enters the pen to be milked, Jim Kepple explained.
As if on cue, his cell phone rang and he flipped it open.
“That’s the barn calling me now,” he said.
Problems crop up with the robots occasionally, but mostly the machines run smoothly. Mike Kepple has an app on his iPhone that allows him to fix remotely problems with the robotic milkers. He was once in Ocean City, Md., with his girlfriend when a problem with the milkers arose. From the beach, he fixed the problem at the farm.
The family used to milk cows in a parlor, which required two people. Now, they can milk more cows with fewer people in fewer hours. Mike Kepple said two people used to work from 1:30 to 4 a.m.; now one person checks on the robotic milkers from 3:30 to 4:30 a.m.
“We saved a ton of man-hours there,” he said.
ROBOTS CAN’T DO EVERYTHING
When the family had the robotic milkers installed, they also put a “cow brush” in the barn.