Laura Flory, a dairy farmer in Dublin, VA and blogger, recently had an entry published in Progressive Dairy about the changes that have taken place on their farm since they converted to Lely robots. Read the except below or the entire article here.
I walked past the little date carved by the post on the front porch of our new milking facility and was instantly struck with a smile. It read “3-19-14” in hand-carved numbers that my husband and I etched with a worn-out pocketknife merely a year ago.
Over the past year, our farm has seen huge changes take place as the blueprints became barns and the hills of Hillside Farm gained a new outlook on life. In August of 2014, our cows moved into a new freestall facility equipped with four Lely A4’s, a closed-loop flush system and new pack barn for close-up cows. Wow, what a year. Someday I’d love to show you all the 2,387 photos I took to document the process.
But until then, a simple story will have to suffice – the story of where we are today.
As I began writing this post, I looked back at a previous entry, just after we had started up. My conclusion particularly caught my eye.
“And though I cannot say how the story will end, I can tell you that there is a red barn in the hills of southwest Virginia that is full of happy cows and farmers who are very grateful.”
Well, whether or not I’ll ever know how the story ends, I can tell you this – after only eight months, the farmers and the cows are very happy and finally learning to relax.
So many things have changed on our operation, but I’ll start by sharing just a few.
Instead of employing a milker for 10 hours a day, we now only fetch cows twice a day. This list consists of fresh cows that are past eight hours since their last visit and mid-to-late lactation cows that are past 12 hours. The number of animals is about 5 to 8 percent of the herd, and the most likely culprits are the cows close to dry.