Robots take over milking at fifth-generation farm in Hastings

Click to play video: 'Hastings, Ont. farmer embraces robotics for a dairy farm'
Hastings, Ont. farmer embraces robotics for a dairy farm
Hastings, Ont. farmer embraces robotics for dairy farm. – Aug 23, 2017

The Crowley family of Hastings, Ont. say they believe things can always be improved, but they never thought they’d see robots milking their cows.

“Five or eight years ago we said we’d never have robots on this farm, but here we are now in robots,” said the owner of the dairy farm, John Crowley.

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The Crowley farm has been in the family for five generations. The herd includes about 200 cows.

It wasn’t until this year that the family decided to invest $2.5 million to make the switch to newer technology. While it’s too early to know exactly what the savings will be, the Crowleys say they are convinced the cost and time savings will be significant.

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Essentially, the system allows for the cow to choose its own milking schedule; traditionally, cows have been milked on a farmer’s time frame. With the robotic system, the cow moves to the milking station and the robots take care of the rest.

“It’s the technology and the information level from cows — from temperatures to cows being sick, to a cow’s production, butterfat protein, some egg-cell counts — it’s just the information train that’s incredible,” Crowley said.

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While the concept of automated milking is not new, more dairy farmers are investing in high-tech solutions to save money and time, said Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd.”

“I’ve been going around the riding of eastern Ontario, talking about something I’m calling the rural renaissance and it’s where agriculture and rural communities come together with innovation and I think this is the perfect example of that,” she said.

The operation officially opened on August 23.

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