The Top Three Tech Trends in the Dairy Farming Industry
Are you leveraging technology in your operation?
Gone are the days when farmers spent hours hand-milking cows one-by-one. Dairy farming has significantly evolved over the last decade, and continues to change at an incredibly fast pace. From robotic milking to Fitbits for bovines, modern dairy farming is constantly searching for new innovations to increase milk yields, enhance milk quality, and reduce costs. Here are the top three technology trends in the dairy farming industry today.
Robotic milking systems, or automatic milking systems (AMS), were developed in the late 20th century and have been commercially available since the early 1990s. Since their release, these systems have soared in popularity. Robotic milking is when a mechanical system – or a robot – automatically milks a dairy cow without having human labor involved. The system is set up to guide the herd into the milking shed, identify each cow individually by scanning an identification tag, milk the cows, check the milk, and record any data. Based on her tag number, the machines know exactly the shape of the cow’s udder and body, as well as the last time she was milked and the quantity that was produced. The manufacturer Lely recommends that when you begin implementing robotic milking, start with 50-60 cows per robot and divide the group into two subgroups. The first three days you should lure cows into the parlor three times a day. This should be done in a very calm and patient manner to prevent the cows from having a negative connotation with the robot. During these three days you’ll see 75% of the cows go to the robots all on their own. The advantages of robotic milking are numerous as they don’t need to be managed, valuable data is collected, and you can save hours of manual labor per day.
Today, many of us have Fitbits attached to our wrists to monitor our steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep quality. But a new wearable technology has made its way to the barn. Introducing the cow collar – a “Fitbit” for cows. With cow collars you can gather a large amount of data on the health, habits, and happiness of your herd. This includes the number of steps per day as well as rumination. All the data gathered is sent to a portal you can access from your computer or smartphone. You can share any abnormal information you find with your vet, making it easier to detect and resolve stress, illnesses, or health-related issues early on. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all – it allows you to detect when a cow is in heat. Because of this, you can potentially increase the chances of healthy pregnancies, which can lead to enhanced milk production.
Automatic Feed Pusher
Would you like to do less work for more yield? Who wouldn’t? The automatic feed pusher is another top tech trend taking the dairy industry by storm. This machine pushes feed toward the feed fence during times and routes you set. This not only saves you hours of labor, it allows the cows to have constant access to fresh feed around the clock. An automatic feed pusher can kindle frequent feed consumption – day and night – resulting in higher feed intake among your herd. This can result in healthier animals, improved fertility, improved production, and can potentially save you money in the long run.
As today’s technology continues to grow and evolve, the dairy industry will follow suit. From apps that monitor herd health, drones that scan fields, and thermostat-controlled curtains that keep cows comfortable throughout the winter, the dairy industry is becoming more advanced than ever before. Farmers will continue to strive to improve production, promote animal quality, and save time and energy on the farm. Share what technology you are implementing for your daily dairy farming tasks in the comments.