They're farming out dairy chores -- to robots

  • Article by: DANIELA HERNANDEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2012 - 11:07 AM

A Stearns County farm is on the leading edge in a new wave of farm technology that is sweeping into the Upper Midwest: a dairy robot so sophisticated that it has practically taken the milker out of milking.

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furguson11Sep. 2, 12 5:54 AM

More minimum wage jobs outsourced to robots. Good luck to the unskilled.

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bldoobSep. 2, 12 7:56 AM

i know this in particular might be a bad example, but this is why were going down the tubes. technology is great. im obviously on a computer, but it seems as if you need to have all the $$ and time in the world to get a degree that will even get you a job at mcdonalds now. why? instaed of actually cooking a burger(harder than it sounds with endless orders pouring in)you have to learn about computer systems designed and built outside this country "on the cheap" that were made to microwave mystery meat and eventually remove all people from the kitchen in the name of PROFITS.

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bobesseSep. 2, 12 8:38 AM

Wonderful example of how technology can take over some of the jobs that nobody wants to do any more. The best comment is the 89 year old farmer saying "it gets better every year"! Thanks for the article.

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GirlGraceSep. 2, 1212:03 PM

We saw these robots in action when we visited relatives in Sweden in 2010. They do save on farm workers bodies and do it all, from cleaning the udder, putting on the millers, and testing the milk in real time for bacteria counts. If the germ count is too high, the milk is shunted off to a separate place from the rest. The farmers we spoke to love the milking robots, but they require a lot of monitoring. The robot sends an alarm if anything is not as usual and it seemed that the alarm went off quite frequently, requiring some small adjustment, usually. The cows love it! They go in easily and often want to be milked more than 3 times per day because they get fed yummy grain while they are milked. I think it is a good thing for the farmers and the cows. With any progress,mthere are winners and losers. Just one more reason to stay in school and to become conversant with technology. I don't think we are going to go back to the old way of doing this.

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shushyn78Sep. 2, 12 2:58 PM

I was able to witness these robot milkers on a Wisconsin dairy farm three years ago. It was pretty amazing but there were a few problems that this particular farmer ended up getting rid of the machines. Because he retrofitted the machines into his existing barn they found there was stray voltage that they were unable to get rid of. For cows that were very sensitive, they refused to enter the milkers because of the mild shock they received. If you build, start with a new building and modern grounding techniques that remove voltage problems. There is also much more high tech failure possibilities that you can't fix with barb wire and twine. You need an automation specialist that can diagnose relay and valve failures. But it is still worth investigating for those who want to continue milking. The farm ain't what it used to be and it sure beats sitting in metro area traffic wondering where your life went.

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beaelliottSep. 2, 1210:44 PM

"Robots or not"...Female cows are forcibly artificially inseminated to become pregnant and continue lactating. After 9 months, the dairy industry steals these baby calves shortly after they are born. The "worthless" males who can't make milk are either killed immediately or kept in isolation for a few months to become veal. The unfortunate females calves follow their mother's sad lot all the way to the last moments on the kill floor when they are no longer "productive". Adult humans do not need cow's milk any more than they need goat's milk, wolf's milk, camel's milk, giraffe's milk. Unweaned infants do notably better on their own mother's breast milk which is what our species was intended to consume. Thankfully there's abundant plant based alternatives that are just as nutritional, just as satisfying and just as versatile in cooking. Some even have twice the amount of calcium and vitamin D as cow's milk does. There's absolutely nothing beneficial to the human diet in cow's milk.It's also destructive to the environment and a tragic waste of resources.Perhaps it is time for "unweaned" adults to look beyond what deceptiveness and hype the dairy industry is pitching at you in order to keep their profits and their cruel practices in check.

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newgovguySep. 4, 1210:02 AM

bea, males are not killed, they are too valuable. Most are fed to market weights and end up as steaks and roasts. A dariy cow in a mdern dairy is far from creul. A goodly share of timne and effor t is made to keep a cow as comfortable as possible, sand beds, cool breezes, highly nutrius feed. Better life than a good share of people in the world. Be a vegan is you wish, it is your choice, just be honest.

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