In the labor-intensive dairy farming industry, robots are making farmers’ lives just a little bit easier.
Imagine a cow walking into a box, being milked and fed, and then released – all without human involvement. A robotic milker is now doing all of the above at Vetsch Farms east of Browerville, Minnesota.
Owner Loren Vetsch explains how the milker works in more detail, “The cows walk into the box and it reads their collars. Each cow has its own collar with a special ID. The system milks the cows and feeds them at the same time. Then it opens up when they’re done and lets them out.”
“We’re at 2.6 milkings per day right now,” he continues. “The cows are even being milked all night while we’re sleeping.”
Having a robotic milking system in place has proved to be an enormous asset for Vetsch Farms. Vetsch says the milker allows him to spend more time with his wife and kids who work on the farm as well. It also helps alleviate some of the strain caused by a shortage of available labor. This lack of labor, combined with a growing business, prompted the decision to switch to a robotic system.
“We bought the farm in 2008 with 30 cows,” Vetsch reports. “Now we have 260 cows.” Of those 260 cows, 184 are now milked with the robotic milker. This translates into 14,200 pounds of milk collected through the use of the robotic milker each day. With Vetsch Farms producing 18,000 total pounds of milk each day, the robotic milker is responsible for collecting the majority of the milk they produce. This milk is then sold to First District Association dairy cooperative.
Vetsch Farms first started using its robotic milker on June 20th this past summer. Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative (TWEC) played a role in helping make the new technology more affordable for the farm. After reading about rebates in the cooperative’s Pine to Prairie newsletter, Vetsch contacted TWEC to learn more about how his farm might benefit from the rebates currently available. Vetsch Farms was able to take advantage of a $5,000 rebate per robotic stall.
“Todd-Wadena is proud to offer incentives to help our farm and business members save money on equipment, energy efficient motors, fans, drives, and more. These rebates, along with all our other rebates, are reimbursed by Great River Energy,” says Allison Frederickson, TWEC Member & Energy Services Manager. “Give us a call if you are upgrading or purchasing any electric equipment to see if there is a rebate that could benefit you.”