High-tech dairy machinery has great potential
MINNEAPOLIS – The boss cow saunters to the head of the line and, with a flick of her hip, cuts off two other ladies. She’s itching to get at the tasty brown morsels waiting in the feed trough.
“It’s like candy for them,” Lisa Groetsch said as she oversaw milking on her Stearns County, Minn., farm one recent afternoon. “It’s full of protein and nutrients.”
Groetsch and her Holstein herd represent the leading edge in a new wave of farm technology that is sweeping into the Upper Midwest: a dairy robot so sophisticated that it has practically taken the milker out of milking. The robots – which not only milk the cows but also control their feed and adjust their schedules – have spread to about 50 dairy farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin since they were first installed in 2006. The Dutch manufacturer, Lely, recently expanded its North American headquarters in Iowa to include a 36,000-square-foot production facility, the company’s first outside the Netherlands.
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