Yesterday, Bradley Biehl of Kutztown, Pa., and Doyle Waybright of Gettysburg, Pa., were featured at the on-going Precision Dairy Management 2013 conference in Rochester, Minn. They shared their experiences in converted their traditional milking systems to robotics and other technologies.
The program, billed as the first-ever precision dairy management conference in the United States, is being hosted by University of Minnesota. Waybright, co-owner of Mason-Dixon Farms, was a featured presenter at the 2008 Dairy Robotonomics Seminar, hosted by American Agriculturist at New York Farm Show.
This time, Waybright targeted why and how new technologies are sustainable for U.S. dairies. The farm has used methane digesters since 1979 to generate electricity for their farm and to sell to the power company. In 2009, the dairy installed its second set of 10 DeLaval milking robots and is currently milking 1,100 cows via robotics.
Biehl, of Corner View Farm, partnered with father, Dalton, to install the first Astrea 20.20, two-stall robotic milking system in the United States by AMS Galaxy USA. He shared the challenges and successes of moving from a 60-cow tie stall operation to a 120-cow automated milking system.
Aside of doubling cow numbers milked, Corner View Farm has achieved a 30% increase in per-cow milk production, adding only a fraction of the labor – only possible with precision technology including programmable and iPhone controlled lighting, curtains, sprinklers, fans, IP cameras and a single robotic arm that milks cows in two stalls.
The precision dairy program includes national and international experts, the latest research abstracts, and producer panels using robotic milking, sensors and automated calf feeders. Today's technology includes using sensors to collect information automatically, plus automation to deliver labor and management tasks automatically.
Vendors at the accompanying trade show featured equipment employing sensors, activity monitors, computerized solutions and precision feeders. BouMatic, for instance, features OptiFlo CF, the only true variable-speed milk transfer control system for cooling system efficiency. When milk is pumped through a cooling system at optimum flow rates, more efficient heat transfer occurs at the plate cooler. This reduces cooling system requirements and saves money through lower energy consumption.
Information about the Precision Dairy Conference, including submitted papers on the latest research, can be found at the www.precisiondairy.umn.edu website. Information about papers on the latest research may be available there soon.
Catch the "Robots: life-changers" story from the 2013 Dairy Robotonomics seminar on page 4 of June's American Agriculturist, or click here.