“We still have a lot to learn, but I don’t think there can ever be too much data,” commented Chaney’s Dairy Farm’s Dore Baker at the recent Precision Dairy Conference in Lexington, Ky.
Her thoughts were echoed by the other panelists in a session focusing on robotic technology and the decision to implement it.
For fellow panelist Kyle Abel of Abel Acres Farm in Loyal, Wis., the endless stream of data was one of his biggest reasons for wanting to use robotic milking technology. “I’m a numbers guy so I really enjoy all the data. That’s been huge for us, and I enjoy it,” he said.
For Eddie Gibson, a Walton, Ky., dairy farmer, some data is more valuable than others. “I have found the most value in the rumination monitors particularly with fresh cows. I can find them going the wrong way a whole lot faster,” explained the dairyman who has been using robotic technologies for the past three years.
All three panelists agreed that the installation of robots added value to the farm but especially to their livelihoods.
“For the first time in a long time, when me and my dad talk after work, we don’t talk about employees,” Abel said. “We still have employees, but at one point it got to be all we talked about. It’s been nine months, and we haven’t done that.”
Baker echoed his comments and explained that the addition of the robots has been a big draw for their agritourism business at Chaney’s Dairy Farm.
For Gibson, the choice to put in robots was mostly driven by the opportunity to change his lifestyle. “We milk 75 cows, and the decision was to put in robots or not milk,” he said.Although there are still many challenges to sort through when it comes to robotic technologies and managing the data flow, these three producers find the value of the robots to be well worth the expense.