Adam Steiner handles Lely robot sales, project planning, assists in the installation process and is a Senior Service Technician for Dairy Services Inc. located in Stratford, WI. But that’s not all, Adam is also a Senior FMS (farm management support) Advisor for Lely. This puts him in a position to work with a customer from sale to success as he was able to do on Rueth Farms in working with owner Rick Rueth. We asked him a few questions about his experience and his role as an advisor.
1. How did you get involved in robotic milking?
I was a Route Chemical Salesman for the dealership when we installed our first A3 robots in 2009. I was on the farm for the startup and first milking, and I was fascinated by the operation of the robots and the abilities they have to change a dairy producer’s lifestyle along with that of their families. So I transitioned into the robot service and from there to sales and FMS support. I have worked with Lely for nine years.
2. Describe your role as an advisor; what are your main goals and duties?
I feel my role as a FMS advisor is to make the transition to robotic milking as smooth as possible for the cows, the producer and their family. This includes teaching them the T4C (time for cows) management software, working with their nutritionists and being there to answer questions throughout the process of becoming robotic farmers.
3. Describe some concerns that you recall Rueth Farms having and how you addressed these?
The cows were from a tie stall facility so there were a lot of changes they had to experience. Everything from teaching them to use free stalls, eat at a feed bunk with headlocks and use the new waterers in the barn. We made sure throughout the startup process that the cows had access to food, water and the ability to lay down at all times. We made an extra effort to get the cows to use the new free stalls by walking them to the stalls after they were milked each time so that they learned as quickly as possible where to lay down. Also, balancing the feed ration in a new startup is always a concern; making sure the cows are getting the nutrition that they need as well as encouraging them to use the robots. We worked hand-in-hand with the nutritionists and the feed mill to make sure that the ration was balanced correctly and the pellet was a good hard pellet that the cows wanted to eat.
4. How much time did you spend on the farm physically and how often were you in contact remotely:
My role at the dealership is more than just sales and FMS support; I also help with the installation of the robots, so I am on the farm a lot. I’d say I spend about two weeks throughout the installation process. I am also on the farm for the week of startup; I generally spend the first four days of start up on the farm assisting with the process and training the cows to use the robots, along with the rest of our dealership personnel, in 12 hour shifts. After the startup week, I try to follow up or check in several times a week for the next couple of weeks, as well as spending additional time with the producers on what is needed to maintain the robots on a daily and weekly basis.
5. Is there anything you would like to share with producers who may be considering robotic milking?
See as many barns as possible and take two or three things that you like from each barn to incorporate into your facility. I also encourage you to talk with current robot users about their experiences and listen to any advice they may have on what worked for them and what helped them get through the transition process. I also try to include my experienced customers in new startups. I feel it helps the new producer see the light at the end of the tunnel and reassures them that they have made the right decision, through what can be a stressful time.