The Main Reason to Choose Robots? “Labor, Labor, Labor”

Linn Kansas Dairies ( Wyatt Bechtel )

When it comes down to installing an automated milking system, there are many variables to consider. 

“How much will this cost? Will the cows transition? Do we need to reconfigure our housing system?” 

While these are all important questions to answer, the reason to choose robots is simple: “Labor, labor, labor.” It’s choosing the brand of robots you want to incorporate on your farm that’s the hard part, according to Jouni Pitkaranta, a dairy, youngstock and barn design specialist focused in robotic milking.

“When you add a robotic milking system to your facility, you should start to see a reduction in labor within a relatively short period of time,” he says. “In fact, producers who incorporate more than one robot on their operation start to see some pretty significant changes. Just one robot can reduce your work load, but more than one robot can drasticallyreduce the amount of labor you need on the farm.”

While a robot decreases the amount of labor put into milking the animals, adding robotic milkers also comes with a few other added perks, according to Pitkaranta. These include:

  • Being less physically demanding.
  • A more flexible time schedule for producers.
  • More milkings per cow per day. 
  • Caters to those who have a keen interest in data and technology. 
  • Gives farmers the ability to expand without bringing in extra labor. 

Although robots can help reduce the overall workload on the farm, this piece of technology should not be viewed as an overall solution to poor herd management, says Virpi Kurkela, a large animal veterinarian and robotic milking consultant for 4dbarn.

“A robot doesn’t solve any of your animal health, welfare or labor issues, it is still the management that is important,” she says.” However, a robot can be a great piece of technology that can help you identify where your problems are and where you are spending your time on the farm.” 

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