I think society has got used to robots building cars and manufacturing chocolate bars. But milking a cow? How could that even work?!
Well it turns out that its been going on for quite some time, much to the delight of farmers and, as I found out, their cows.
While visiting my friend, Adam Chippendale, he offered to show me round his new robotic milking parlour so I could check it out for my self.
So…. It goes a little something like this.
Adam’s farm has three robots for milking (as far as I can tell!) that look like this from the human side.
Firstly the cow steps into what I would call a booth and its here that lasers (yes lasers) size up where the udders are.
It then reaches out and one by one pops a suction cup on to each nipple.
It then gets to pumping away. Whilst its doing that, the robot checks and records vital details of each cow. Monitoring weight, diet etc
But why would a cow even bother going in there? Well see how I mentioned diet up there. There are two hoppers for each booth with different feeds for the cows.
So its a great way to get some tasty food rather than the general hay based feed which they can eat any time.
Each cow can take anywhere between 4 minutes and 12 minutes to get done. After they are done the udders are sprayed with a disinfectant to ensure its as healthy as possible and the machine does a self purge and clean between each pumping cycle.
She looks happy doesnt she.
The cows simply cant get enough and que to go in!
Its a serious piece of kit including an office upstairs with the computing and data systems.
The milking robots aren’t the only robots on this farm. Here is a nifty poop scooping robot that is also automated.
I always think its funny that I think Adam’s farm stinks and he thinks outside my house stinks but neither of us notice our own smells!
Here is a big bull that “double checks”, to quote Adam, that his heffers get pregnant after a prior artificial insemination with semen from the Netherlands.
There is a set cycle to milking and calf making and this last picture is one that was born recently.
Its mummy made a moo when the flash went off 😛
Farming has come a very long way in the last couple of hundred years. Artificial insemination was out there when it first started happening Im sure, just like milking robots are now. But as it advances it keeps our food sources in better stead and the animals that provide it with better and better welfare.