Finding quality help for their 200-cow dairy forced Ethan dairy farmers, Gary and Amy Blase to make a decision - quit the dairy business or invest in robotic milkers.
Not ready to quit the industry they love, the couple turned to technology.
"Biggest reason was finding dependable hired help was becoming too difficult and 200 cows are too much for us to milk ourselves," Amy Blase said.
Her husband adds.
"Hired help have a tendency to do things they way they want to - not necessarily the way you need them to. The robots do the job right and exactly how you tell them to do it," said Gary Blase.
Although there was a learning curve, they both agree that they made the right decision. In addition to all the cows being milked correctly, the robots have monitors which automatically detect illness, mastitis and also changes in body weight- giving Gary and Amy more time to manage other aspects of their dairy operation.
"Some people are good people managers and enjoy managing people. We would rather manage our cows than people," Amy said.
She adds that robotic milkers have also given them more time to enjoy life.
"We rarely set an alarm clock if that says anything," Amy said.
After years of getting up before dawn so they could be in the barn by 5 a.m., Gary says they wouldn't go back to traditional milking.