Any adoption of new technology should come with a close look at the economics of using the technology. On the cost side, the price of the total FutureCow varies based on the advanced nature of the system. For upkeep and maintenance, costs depend on herd size. “In the U.S., GEA has a program that includes parts, brushes, solution and brush unit replacements,” Engel says. “This is prorated by the number of cows being milked with a base level of $2.60/cow/month.”
On the revenue side, the Kinnards have seen “a significant drop in our predip cost,” says Lee Kinnard, one of the owners. “We also see benefits of the cow comfort and milk quality advantages through greater cow longevity.”
Seibels saw a drop in somatic cell count, which adds about $400 per month to the milk check. They say these premiums give the unit a two to three year payback. Like the Kinnards, the Seibels have seen a drop in the amount of predip used. Since they have gone away from using towels to dry, they’ve seen a savings there, too.
The Seibels also saw a reduction in labor. Before the teat scrubber came into the picture, Ron and Tyler along with Ron’s brother, Rodney, and his son, Jeremy, were milking 170 cows through the 60-stall barn. It took three people to fully prep and milk the herd using eight units.
After the teat scrubber was introduced, the Seibels found two people could prep and milk cows. “We save so much time prepping cows, we’re able to milk with nine units,” Ron says. That shaves 30 minutes off milking time while also freeing up a team member.
For more on FutureCow read our story Milking Prep: Same Process, Every Time.
Editor’s note: Tragically, on July 2, 2015, Rodney and Jeremy both died. The Seibels dispersed the milking herd to settle Rod’s estate, keeping back the young stock. By 2016, they built herd numbers back. All these young cows have high, well-attached udders with good teat placement. This is likely another reason for the low cell counts.
Note: This story appeared in the November issue of Dairy Herd Management.