New Robotic Milking Machine Gives Freedom to Farmers

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For the 44th year, the Eau Claire Farm Show brought the latest and greatest in farm products and technology to local farmers.

And while the farm show featured everything from a dairy contest to an exotic creatures display, show director Sally Henry says the highlight for many was a new robotic milker.

The voluntary milking system, works just like it sounds, by making the entire milking process fully automated and manufacturers say that will help give hard working farmers more freedom and the ability to reduce the number of hired hands they need to employ.

"The dairy man does not have to be there at all during the milking, the cow just walks into the stall and it washes the teats and prepares the teats and puts the unit on and sends the milk to the bulk tank," Gene Colby of Advanced Dairy Systems said.

One VMS costs about 250 thousand dollars and will milk about 70 cows. Besides changing the filtering system twice a day, the farmer doesn't need to be involved in the milking process at all.

But, without a system, dairy farmers typically work seven days a week, 365 days a year, milking their herd twice, sometimes even three times a day.

"They've been in Europe for probably seven, eight, nine years whatever it is there's a great number of them out there, so the technology has already been perfected, it's just to get it here and get it up and going," Bob Stroh with DeLaval said.

Still, Stroh says voluntary milking systems are rare in the US because they've just recently been approved and while the farm show brought the system to the attention of many interested farmers, there is currently only one in Minnesota and none in Wisconsin.

The system on display at the Farm Show will become available in June of 2007.