KARS ó Casey and Chloe milk the cows at Cranberry Creek Farms, and Jake helps to keep the animals fed. Day in and day out, the trio toils without complaint inside the spacious new barn.
Theyíre robots, of course, and featured attractions at the farmís June 15 open house event.
The Lindsay family chose to give names to the Lely-brand machines, adding a little extra personality to their robots with large stick-on letters. Casey and Chloe are A4-model milking robots, while Jake is a droid-like Juno-model feed sweeper.
"The adjustment went smoothly for us and the cows," said Mark Lindsay, standing in the middle of the free-stall facility as Chloe efficiently serviced a cow nearby.
Construction on the $2-million project began last September, and the herd moved into its new digs on a lucky date, St. Patrickís Day.
Located on a hill, the barn is laid out with six-rows of stalls and feed alleys on the barnís perimeter, allowing the animals access to either robot. Thereís room for an expanded milking herd of up to 120, though Lindsay currently meets his existing quota requirement with 94. Thatís down from the approximately 100 cows milked in the farmís previous barn ó an 80s-era facility with double-10 milking parlour.
"We were able to cut back on the size of the herd," the third-generation dairy farmer explained, noting the switch to robots boosted average daily production per cow from 32 litres to 38. "And weíre peaking now at 39 litres."
The facility also houses all of the operationís heifers and dry cows, which are comfortably bedded on peat moss. Gell mats also line the stalls of the milking herd.
Automated scrapers remove manure, sending the material on its way to a new storage lagoon.
The owner continues to use an existing drive-over pile pad to store his ensilage feed grown on the farmís 600 acres of cropland. "We started that a couple of years ago, and that was a big improvement, too," he said.
But it was time for the old barn and parlour to go. "Something had to be done. It was either get out, or do something better."
Lindsay had his mind set on the robotic route before undertaking the project. Installing another parlour was never on option. "I didnít even consider it."
Today, Lindsay and a hired man are able to look after the highly automated new barn all by themselves. With more time for management, he expects to do more with the purebred herd. "Iím probably going to pay more attention to the genetics than I have been."