According to the Wisconsin State Farmer, the 2014 Cow College tour concluded Jan. 21 with a tour of two Outagamie county farms that have adopted cutting-edge technology to help save time, labor and money.
The first farm on the tour was Lely producer, Wichman Dairy, located near Freedom, WI. In the article, Robotic milking, manure solids bedding systems viewed on farm tour, Brad Wichman sheds light onto the 240-cow freestall barn equipped with four Lely A4 automatic milking systems.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
The first stop was at the multi-generational Wichman dairy farm west of Freedom. In mid-november the family moved its Holstein herd from a tie-stall barn to a state-of-the-art 240-cow freestall barn that features a Lely A4 Robotic Milking System.
In describing the layout of the new barn, Brad Wichman said, "Some of the stalls are built for smaller animals, some are for larger, mature cows. There are two robots on each side of barn, and cows able to go to either robot on their side. We did that so if one robot goes down, the cows can still go through the other one."
He said most cows quickly adapted to the new system. "By the second night we had two cows going through the robots on their own, and things got better each day. Within a week most were going through on their own."
Brad's father Mark noted they haven't had to cull any animals that wouldn't adapt to the system. "We started with 160 cows, so each robot had 40 cows, and they trained really fast," he said.
The article goes on to discus robot basics and advantages such as labor saving, increased production, and longer cow life due to less stress. The tour ended at a nearby farm which uses manure solids for animal bedding.