July 11 2019 01:15 PM

Include your employees in planning for robotic milking.

During this robotic transition, Dad has written several blogs about what all is going on around the farm preparing for startup. A few are listed at the bottom of this blog, but we haven’t really talked about how the employees on our farm are preparing for the transition. There is one thing I have realized since I have come back to the farm and that is change can be difficult for the employees.

Transition, transform, change, alter; these are words that some employees fear. We have tried our best to explain that these words can also be placed alongside of efficient, effective, stress reduction, and flexibility. When it comes to big changes, employees need to understand all aspects of the transition or we tend to see a slight negative reaction.

Since the decision to switch to robots, we have had a lot of construction to do. Many blueprints have been drawn and redrawn. In doing that, we have asked our employees their opinions. Being on the management side of things, we have to realize there are things that they do that we don’t. We might be busy creating feed sheets, calling feed companies, doing dry matters, entering everyday data. It’s a good thing, then, to hear what they have to say about moving cows to the trim table or from close-up groups to far-offs. They might have a different opinion about which way a gate should be hinged or how to move a cow from point A to B. Also, including them in decisions being made about the transition creates a feeling of involvement and stability.

Yes, robots will reduce our labor needs, but we are at a point where we have had employees retiring. Some of our milking staff are going to have to make adjustments coming out of the parlor into the “robotic life.” We will strive to do our best at making this transition as smooth as possible for our staff and cows.

Getting into robots blogs:

Midnight robot musings

Interested in robots? Quiz Facebook

Our robots are becoming real

It started with a napkin and a sketch

Headed down the robotic road

More to think about with robots

Robotic insights from fellow dairy farmers

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.