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Land O'Lakes Dairy Farmer Drives Efficiency with Robotic Milker

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Uploaded on Jan 18, 2010

Promoting innovation and advocating the use of new technologies have been staples of Land OLakes throughout its history. A recent example of this philosophy can be seen at Heintz-Badger Valley Farm in Caledonia, Minn., where owner Doug Heintz recently installed a robotic milking system.

The system, called the Lely Astronaut, allows for 24-hour-a-day milking at the cows discretion. The cows are enticed into the robot with pelleted feed and are milked as much a six times a day. It took about three weeks to train his herd to enter the robots, but now Heintz said they almost compete to enter the stalls.

Because the cows are free to enter the machine as they wish, Heintz also made the transition to a freestall barn, which allows the cows to move freely throughout the barn. The result has been overwhelmingly positive.

Since the systems launch Dec. 29, 2008, Heintz said his facility is running much more efficiently. I have about 12 or 13 cows milked per hour all through the night.

In addition, the installation of the robots and the freestall barn has led to the herds average somatic cell count dropping nearly in half and has dramatically decreased the strenuous labor typically associated with operating a dairy.

Because of the success of the system, Heintz said he would advise any producer looking to make facility improvements to explore a robotic system. I definitely recommend it if youre looking to expand or just trying to make your life a little easier or more efficient.

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