During the past month robotics and other dairy precision technologies have been making headlines across the country, and even globally.
A pair of Georgia dairy farmers shared with The Washington Post how he has been implementing activity monitors on their operations.
New Zealand-born Richard Watson has fitted 200 cows with activity monitors on his 2,000 head dairy farm. He has use the technology to help boost his breeding efficiency and health monitoring.
Fellow Georgia dairyman Mark Rodgers also talks about his use of activity monitors and plans to add robotics to his farm. However, Rodgers says there is no substitute for being able to watch an animal yourself.
“It’s an art and a science, and I hope my daughter and nephew get better at it than I am,” Rodgers says.
Michigan dairy farmers Bill and Carol Shuler opened their farm to NPR and a national audience when they were featured in the radio and online segment “The Salt: What’s On Your Plate.”
The Shulers talked about how using robotic milkers has helped change their lifestyle. "If you're a small operation and you can't hire help, you're a virtual slave to your farm. You can't get away," Bill says.
Now being in the barn at all time isn’t ask much of a requirement as the Shulers and their sons can monitor what is happening remotely with their phones.
"If this technology would have been available 25 or 30 years ago, I'd still have more friends milking cows today," he says.
Activity monitors were featured in a television story from local Pennsylvania station FOX 43. Lamar Gockley, the owner of Willow Springs Farm in Lancaster County, uses the technology on more than 100 cows helping improve his management.
"I've been able to get a lot more calves because of breeding efficiency, so I have more animals to sell," Gockley says.
Unfortunately, some headlines haven't been about success stories. Vermont Public Radio shares the downfall of an iconic dairy in Vermont that was the first in the state to begin milking with robotics. The dairy changed hands in 2014 from longtime owner-operator Clark Hinsdale in 2014. The new owners of the dairy weren’t able to make things work after milk prices went down.
Hinsdale shares what happened at Nordic Farms in the interview and what the future of dairying looks like.
“I've been speaking out on that and I do plan to write my ‘exit letter’ from the dairy industry and try to share what I think I've learned with co-operative leaders and policymakers,” Hinsdale says.
Internationally, BBC visited Buddington Farm in Easebourne, United Kingdom, where dairy farmer James Renwick milks 140 through robots.
“They have a very relaxed time and it’s made us more relaxed looking after them,” Renwick says.