Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
Tue December 11, 2012
Robotic dairies becoming more common in Iowa
A Northeast Iowa dairy is the latest to invest in a mechanical employee to help with the milking chores. The farmers are hoping the device will enable them to stay competitive in an industry that’s losing producers at an alarming rate. Kevin and Cherish Kueker installed a robot in June. They’ve joined with a neighbor to milk 95 cows and raise calves. Each animal is fitted with an ankle bracelet with a computer chip. In the seven minutes it takes to milk the cow, the chip reveals a detailed history. A click of the mouse shows the last time she was milked, her weight and how much she’s producing. The couple is among about two dozen Iowa dairy farmers who’ve decided to use robots. Iowa State University Extension specialist Ron Lenth says it seems to be a good fit for small to medium sized operations. Once the cows are used to the new system, they seem to like it, too.