July 25 2017 01:14 PM

Six months in, robots are a decision I would make again. My advice – be open to learning.

Last week we celebrated six months as robotic dairy farmers. If I thought the last year flew by with the construction process, then the last six months of transition have gone at the speed of light! I can honestly say that I am so glad we have made the switch to robotic milking.

It has already provided us with the benefits of flexibility to the dairy lifestyle that we were hoping for as a family. Also, we’ve had a better balance without the hours spent in the parlor and opening more time for other herd management tasks. The benefits are already being seen on the cow side as well. A comfortable, relaxed herd that easily and quickly learned the system.

That is what this past six months really has been about for the cows and for us as dairy farmers – learning. It is possibly the best piece of advice I can give to other farmers as they get ready to transition to robotics or make other changes on the farm.

Be open to learning.

While the transition to robotics is not completely relearning how to dairy, there are definitely days that are frustrating with the system adjustments. Allow yourself to accept that there will be some elements that just need to be worked through. That sets a good mindset for moving forward.

Asking questions, no matter how trivial they seem, sets you on the right path to the answers you need. Look at the little details while also not forgetting how they all fit together in the bigger picture. These are just a few of the elements of learning we have experienced through our transition.

The dairy industry is always being provided with new information. Our ability to be open to learning through big transitions and even small changes is what propels us forward.
Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and recently transitioned to a robotic milking system.