June 29 2017 08:00 AM

In order to move forward in the dairy industry, as farmers, we must be open to new ideas.

One of the farms we visited in Wisconsin was Feltz Dairy.

Have you ever heard the term “set in your ways”? Well, I have, and I know a lot of people who are. Sometimes this can be a good thing, while other times, not so much.

There are more and more dairy farms going out of business around us. The milk price tends to scare dairy farmers into making safe changes or no changes at all rather than make “risky” changes that could benefit their dairy for the future.

Over the past few years, since I’ve returned home from college, I have listened to my father, uncle, and grandfather talk about different changes that might happen or that were going to take place around the farm. While dad and my uncle would talk, I would see my grandfather’s face smirk and he would say, “That isn’t going to work. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know what I’m talking about.”

Now don’t get me wrong . . . my Papa has been here for a long time. He knows his stuff and is extremely intelligent. But I get where my dad and my uncle are coming from because now my cousin Josh and I look at them with the same look they give their dad.

In the past week we traveled all around Wisconsin looking at different dairy farms and the way they manage their barns with robots. I definitely felt set in my ways about how I thought these dairies had to be run until I actually got there and took the time to look and watch how they managed their cows. Once I actually saw it for myself I thought this could actually work and benefit us in some ways.

Before we took this trip, I was very skeptical. I thought there was no way that these robots would benefit us. Now we are drawing blueprints and sitting down with each other on a daily basis to get a good idea of where we need to go from here.

None of these large changes would be possible if we were not open-minded and willing to seeing how other farmers run these types of dairy operations.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.