This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
is making life easier for some dairy farmers. They use robotic systems to milk
their cows. These systems are designed to reduce labor and increase milk
production. Here is how they work:
Cows are trained to follow a series of paths that
lead to milking stations. Only one cow at a time can enter a station.
inside, the cow is rewarded with food. As the cow eats, a robotic arm cleans and
connects the animal to the milking machine. A few minutes later, the milking is
complete. The gate is lifted, the cow is released and the next cow enters.
The robotic systems are designed to
operate twenty-four hours a day. The cows get to decide when they want to be
milked. Cows are milked an average of about three times a day. Some are milked
four to six times a day.
cows wear collars around their necks that identify them to the system. A
computer keeps records on their eating and milking. A cow is released from the
station if the computer decides it should not be milked.
automated system also measures the temperature and color of freshly produced milk.
Milk is thrown away if it does not pass the tests.
Cows need about two to
four weeks to learn to use the robotic milking systems. Once trained, the cows
no longer require human assistance, unless something goes wrong. The system is
programmed to notify the farmer if there is a problem.
Karen Plaut heads the Department of Animal Science at Michigan
State University. Professor Plaut believes the systems will appeal especially
to the next generation of farmers. She means young people who are more
interested in technology and less interested in working all the time on the
farm. Still, she says the price of robotic milking systems will continue to limit
Tina Suhr have more than one hundred milking cows on their family farm. Last
year it became the fourth farm in southeast Minnesota to get a robotic milking
system. A recent story in a local agricultural newspaper said the first robot
cost one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars. The second cost one hundred
Doug Suhr told
Agri News that wages that would have paid for one employee will pay for one
robot in five years. He says the increase in milk production reached a high of
more than six kilograms per cow per day.
And that's the VOA
Special English Agriculture Report, written by June Simms. I'm Bob Doughty.