June 27 2019 08:00 AM

Our robots may not be installed yet, but they are already waking me up in the middle of the night.

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:

  1. What will you do for wall/ceiling coverings in the robot room, milk house, office, mechanical room, and robot observation room?
  2. How will you finish floors? Will you leave concrete bare or use epoxy, tile, stain, or seal?
  3. 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?
  4. Where will you house and milk fresh or treated cows? Will you keep the old parlor operational?
  5. Will you keep someone on a night shift? Are they milking dump cows, checking calving cows, and/or switching full milk tanks to empties.
  6. Do you need more than one milk tank? How narrow of a window can you give your hauler to pick up the milk?
  7. Will you need additional palpation rails for your vet’s or farm use?
  8. Do you want a single entrance with a keypad lock as the only access to the milk house?
  9. 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?
  10. How do you plan to keep guest out of non-visitor areas? Will additional gates, fencing, or employee only signage be needed?
  11. Where will you locate footbaths in relation to robot?
  12. Do you need to relocate your foot trimming table?
  13. 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!”?

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.