Things are moving along on the farm. The concrete has been poured. All five of our robots have been set in place. The walls are beginning to go up on our building. It feels like not that long ago we were all sitting in the office looking at how a voluntary milking system (VMS) worked on YouTube and thinking that they would be really cool to own. At the same time, we were talking about building a new parlor. The talks about robots became more real after a few discussions about doing what was best for the farm.
We did everything we could to learn about the robots. We went to a lot of different dairies with robots, learned about cow flow, and tried to figure out what would work best for us. The blueprints were drawn up and crews were and are lined up to construct the project. As it has progressed, we have tweaked the blueprints along the way as our minds have changed here and there about things like where a gate should go or which way it should swing. Dad has also reached out to other dairymen on Facebook as questions have come to mind as the project has progressed.
When I first saw the blueprints, I was excited, but it was still not real. Now that the buildings are being built, it’s becoming reality. If you had asked me 10 years ago that we would be putting robots in our freestall barn, I would not have believed it, even though we do try to stay up with the advancements in the dairy industry.
It is going to be a long haul the next few months with finishing the buildings and start-up. We are going to have many long nights and a lot of learning ahead of us. It has already been an exciting experience and we have so much still to go. We will keep you updated throughout the blogs and social media on what is happening around the farm.
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.