Milk from Contented Robots? Technology & Productivity, Dairy Farm Division

A recent report from the Tug Hill region of New York documents how technology is improving the productivity in the dairy industry.  The entire milking process is coming under the control of robots.  We kid you not:

Cows wearing numbered red collars with transmitters pushed their way through one-way gates at both sides of the barn. These gates lead to a common milking area in the middle of the parlor where cows may decide at any time to enter the two robot stations to be milked. Mr. Mason said grain bins inside the gated stations induce the cattle to move inside to be milked by the robot. For the cows, he said, the cornmeal “tastes like candy” compared to silage cows are fed at stalls; it’s like a dessert that supplements their main course.cowbots

Once a cow enters a station and dips its head into the bin, the transmitter on its collar is scanned by a device inside it, triggering the entrance and exit gates to lock. The robot then instantly takes over, swiftly moving underneath the cow to clean its udder with revolving brushes that look like paint rollers. Aerial and ground-view cameras are activated, serving like eyes that guide the robot beneath the udder’s four teats. One by one, laser beams pinpoint precisely where each teat is located. Four upright arms with small cups on their ends clamp onto each teat, the last step before the robot begins vacuuming the milk via hoses.

The process usually takes 45 seconds. If an unruly cow moves around too much, the robot simply kicks it out of the station by opening up the exit gate on which the grain bin is attached; if it still refuses to move out, a wire situated above it delivers a small shock to prod it forward.

You can read the full story here.

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