Jan. 20 2022 08:00 AM

They aren’t always perfect, but we know we can depend on our automated milking systems to get the job done.

This past week, there was a big annual dairy conference in Savannah, Ga. My dad and uncle and their wives went down there for the week and left us to operate the farm. This is an annual event they always go to, and right before my dad leaves, he gives us a never-ending list of things that should be done and looked at, as he rolls out of the driveway. Mind you, these are tasks that we already do and know to do, but that’s just him and that’s ok! It makes him feel better when he’s leaving to give a reminder of what needs to be done.

The only other owner on the farm that week was me, and lo and behold, I got a small headache that wouldn’t leave that turned into body aches and a fever with congestion. I got COVID-19 while they were gone.

Another full-time employee had a family medical emergency and couldn’t come in for the night shift until super late. With everyone else working all day that day, there was no one to cover the evening shift. But the robots still did their job and milked the cows. That was key.

My staff is great. They have pulled together and done a great job. However, the robots can’t get COVID-19 or take vacations. Sometimes they might act a little bit glitchy, but usually a 5-minute power nap does the trick, and they are back in action, working better than ever.

There are some days when a whole lot of small glitches make you fighting mad about robots. But then days like the ones we had this week make them all worth it. If an employee can’t come in at a certain time, or you have staff out with sickness, they are still going to milk the cows.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.