Today in the news The Country Today, featured Wisconsin dairy farmers (and brothers) Mark and Bruce Wichmann. According to the article, the family works about 650 acres of land south of Black Creek, WI, in Outagamie County.
Below is an excerpt from the article titled, Transitioning the farm: Robots set stage for next generation:
Brad said he was sold on robotic milking the first time he saw it in action, but his dad and uncle were slow to warm to the idea. They visited several dairies, including the Knigge dairy near Omro, which was the first in Wisconsin to install robots in 2000.
The article goes on to discuss the layout of the barn and reasoning behind it:
“If you look at this barn, we didn’t cut back on anything,” Bruce said. “I wanted to wait until everything was here that we wanted. We’re going to be here for a long time, so why not do it how you want it.”
They designed the flow-through ventilation barn with a drive-through center feed aisle. Bruce and Mark mix and deliver feed each morning, and it is continually pushed to the feed rail with a battery-operated Lely Juno feed pusher.
One side of the 248-stall free-stall barn is laid out with slightly smaller sand-bedded stalls for fresh heifers and the other side with larger stalls for mature cows. The farm is up to about 213 milkers and is gradually growing to capacity with fresh 2-year-olds purchased specifically for the expansion.
Each half of the barn is serviced by automatic waterers, automatic floor scrapers and a pair of Lely A-4 robotic milkers.
“We did it that way so that if one robot went down, (cows) still had a chance to go through a robot,” Brad said.
This informative producer spotlight provides insight into the challenges and benefits of robotic milking startup. Read the entire article, including how the family transitioned the cows into using robots, by clicking here.
The article concludes with this:
The biggest difference is that they don’t all have to be in the barn at 5:30 in the morning. Brad said the cows have to be checked every day but not at a set time.
Brad said one of the biggest surprises with the new system is that cows are easier to catch in heat. He said the cows now have more room “to do what cows do.”