The robot construction on our farm is well underway, and there are not enough hours in a day for all that needs completing before the first cow is milked. I keep waking up in the middle of the night stewing on things I previously overlooked or items to reconsider.
If you are thinking about adding robots, here are a few more things to muse over:
- What will you do for wall/ceiling coverings in the robot room, milk house, office, mechanical room, and robot observation room?
- How will you finish floors? Will you leave concrete bare or use epoxy, tile, stain, or seal?
- Do you have room above the robots for storage? Do you plan to have an observation window looking down on the robot entrance and freestalls?
- Where will you house and milk fresh or treated cows? Will you keep the old parlor operational?
- Will you keep someone on a night shift? Are they milking dump cows, checking calving cows, and/or switching full milk tanks to empties.
- Do you need more than one milk tank? How narrow of a window can you give your hauler to pick up the milk?
- Will you need additional palpation rails for your vet’s or farm use?
- Do you want a single entrance with a keypad lock as the only access to the milk house?
- Are you planning on conducting any tours? Do you need an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant bathroom, and ADA cement parking spot with a wheelchair ramp into the front of the building?
- How do you plan to keep guest out of non-visitor areas? Will additional gates, fencing, or employee only signage be needed?
- Where will you locate footbaths in relation to robot?
- Do you need to relocate your foot trimming table?
- Will your sort pens have access to feed, water, and/or stalls?
There is a lot for us to consider, and robotic milking has added a lot more variables than if we had built a new parlor. One thing that was an easy decision was the building’s external color. Georgia Red and Black, of course. Can you say . . . “Go Dawgs!”?
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.