Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Unmanned flat barn milking 24 hours a day

Well, it has been a while since I posted, so I am looking over my notes to see the progress made and some of the happenings at the robots. 
Dairy farming is more than just milking cows and taking care of livestock each day.  Here at the dairy we also put up feed for the cows.  I have complained about the rain in prior posts, but it has us a long ways behind on getting corn planted and hay put up. 

Last week was spent swathing hay, chopping hay, raking hay - trying to bale hay and then the rain came again, so we raked the hay again and then continued baling another day.  All of this is happening while we are still trying to prepare some ground to plant corn, and actually plant the corn.  I finished planting the corn yesterday on June 15.  One of my wise old neighbors said that he has always heard that if it isn't planted by June 10 to not plant, because it will not mature.  I hope I get an extra five days this year because about half my corn acres were planted after the 10th of June.

As I have been in the fields and my father with me, my kids have really stepped up with putting the cows through the robots.  The cows were going through so well that we moved about a dozen more down to the robot pen.  That was probably a bad idea looking back.  We also have had about 30 cows calve in the last 25 days.  The fresh cows take extra time to train them and care for them for the first days after calving.  It is very interesting how some of the fresh cows seem to learn remarkable fast and others are a bit   s l o w e r   in their learning.  That is a lot like us humans, huh???

A bit of the background here is that on most all dairies when a human goes into the pen it is to bring up the entire herd of cows to the holding pen, where the cows wait to enter the milking parlor.  So with robotic milking barns, where the cows have access every day all day long, we don't move the entire herd anywhere really all at once.  We go get select cows that the computer tells us to go get.
Anyway, the robots are milking good and getting better. 

We have learned that there are a few cows you want to stay away from.  We are in the corrals more the last 3+ weeks with the cows, without really making most of them go anywhere, and we have found that a bunch of the cows just want to come "hang out" around us and lick us, our clothes, even want to bunt us and be playful with us. Bronco's favorite cow has become #920.  He calls her "Licker" because that is exactly what she does!  She follows him around the pen trying to lick his neck and even licked Heidi one day when she was out there. 

More tomorrow.  

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