Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Floor plan of robot barn

Here is the floor plan of the flat barn.  Under the red canopy sits the “box” where the cow stands to eat and be milked.  We did not put up the red canopies.  In our building design, we overhung the roof and floor joists to make a cover a bit wider and longer for the cow to have protection from the rain, sun, snow & to hang fans and lights. We try to keep the cow as comfortable as possible when she is eating and being milked. 

An intruder in the flat barn!

Sunday, August 9
Its about 5 a.m. right now and I am unable to sleep.  The robots called me with an alarm at a little past 3 a.m. this morning.   When I went out to the flat barn (our robotic dairy building), still half asleep, I found a cow inside the building with the robots. I had to do a double take, and wipe my eyes to make sure I was really seeing a cow inside the robot room.  She was pushed into a corner, kind of trapped by a robot on the south of her and a robot on the west of her.  There was a concrete wall to the north of her and a very small opening to the east of her.  I had to take the  robots out of service, move them to a different posisiton and open our 4’ wide man door (where we enter) to let her out of the flat barn.  Then I opened the gates to let her back into the corral.  I was fearful that she would not go back to be milked for a while after this experience.  I then went back into the flat barn, put the robots back into operation.  
I was inside cleaning up the robots and the mess the cow had made, trying to figure out how in the crap she got inside the barn.  When I looked over to robot #3, there she was!  T-R # 64 had made her way to the robot that fast and was standing there eating her feed waiting to be milked.  As I watched her being milked, still amazed at how dang cool these robotic milking machines are, I figured she must have slipped down in robot box # 1 and crawled on her knees inside the flat barn.  She was in there for well over an hour before she got trapped in the corner.  I have been wondering for the last five hours if she just stood in the middle of the flat barn watching her friends being milked without any humans around thinking,  “Holy Cow! This is cool!”, and then when she went to get a closer look at something on the robots, both of the robots of 1 & 2 moved together and trapped her in the corner where I found her.  I just smile at how calm she was when I got her out & how quickly she went right back to being milked by the robot.  Gosh- being a dairy farmer is full of adventure. 

The "flat barn"

Here is a picture of our “flat barn” as we call it.  The cows do not enter the inside of the building.  The outside has a “box” where the cow enters through a gate, and the gate closes behind her, leaving her alone in the box to eat and be milked.  There is an opening in the wall of the building that allows the robot to swing its arm under the cow.  The arm brushes, cleans, & prepares the teats for milking, then the arm positions itself under the cow & the teat cups are attached to the teats individually. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Production up

July 27
Automatic Milking System is going well.  The cows are going through really well.  Production is on its way up at a slow and steady pace.  Cows are going through about 2.7 times per day on the average with the high cows going through as many as 5 times.  The higher the production of the animals and the more recently they have freshened (had a calf), the more they go to the robots on their own and also go more frequently to the robots to get milked. 

A second chance....

July 20
It is amazing to me that we can take numerous days and trips to the robots to train a cow, & it can all be undone by just one trip that is a lousy experience.  The robots went down for about 4.5 hours a bit ago.  I was frustrated by how long the line was of cows waiting to be milked.  It seemed like it took 2-3 days to catch up on the milkings.  Some of the cows we had to guide to the robot barn again. It was as if they were thinking—“I was over there the other night, waited 3+ hours and wasn’t able to get in, so I ‘m not going back”.  It has since caused me to be more patient with restaurants.  You see, we eat out often.  Most of our experiences are good, pleasant and even enjoyable.  But a couple incidents still recent enough to be on my mind are times when I order & have to wait 55 minutes for my food, and then they get my order wrong & I think similar to what I think my cows thought—“….. I had a bad experience last time and am not going back”  I wish my cows had better memories and could think that 17 of the last 18 times was a great experience, I will walk back over to the robot building again today…… The other side of the coin also makes me realize the importance of making sure that the cows always have a positive experience going to the flat barn,  just like us humans want a positive experience every time we go out to eat.   And maybe I need to give some of those restaurants another chance....