I had a very interesting day yesterday. I attended a meeting that was very different from what I am used to and it allowed me the opportunity to see another side of the organization I work for. Since I am in the people business it is good for me to see the world that some of our staff work in so I can have a better understanding of the challenges they face. I learned a lot yesterday.
As a side benefit of the meeting I was also able to take a tour of the Cinnamon Ridge Dairy Farm. Click here to watch a 7 minute video about (there is a 17 second delay before the video runs) Cinnamon Ridge Dairy Farm and then you can finish reading about my experience. The video was made before the new dairy automation system was installed so that is what I’m going to describe for you in this post.
The two images I was able to take yesterday are pretty bad. I had to shoot through dirty windows and the second image was taken at an angle so there is a lot of background clutter in the image. I apologize for the lack of quality, but the images will help you understand the description I talking about. John Maxwell is the driving force behind Cinnamon Ridge Dairy Farm and in the brief time I spent with him it was easy to discern that he is a remarkable man with a clear vision of what needs to be done. He is also a man of principle and has a soft heart. I was impressed.
Since the video was made John converted his dairy operation to complete automation and robotics. The cows live in a controlled environment that is regulated by computers and robotics. They have little human intervention and usually that is only if they are sick or in need of some type of help. Otherwise everything is maintained by the system. The climate, sanitation, food, water, and of course milking is all done by the computers.
In the first image you see the main area where the cows live. The far wall has a continuous supply of roughage mixed with nutrients and proteins that cows can eat anytime they desire. There is always fresh water available to them as well as a mechanical scratching (message) robot anytime they want it. I watched several cows getting a face rub or a back message and they certainly seemed to enjoy it.
You can also see in the first image large stalls with powdery sand. Those are for the cows to relax in while they are producing milk. Since cows are creatures of habit, at the (normally) proper time the cow will make its way to the milking stall to receive a tasty helping of “robotics pellets” while she is being milked. The computer will allow the cow to be milked 4 times in a 24 hour period. While I was there a few cows (new to the heard) would enter the chamber to get more of the tasty robotic pellets and the computer would not feed them because they were not ready to be milked. The door opens in front and closes in back and then a mild buzz is given the cow after several seconds if she doesn’t leave on her own.
The milking process is completely automated. The robot will wash the teats, automatically hook up the milking cups and milk the cow while she eats her robotics. Once the milking is done the robot sprays the teats with a treatment and the cow then goes back into the community to create more milk. this process continues 24/7.
Robots take care of the waste material on a continuous basis so the cows never have to walk through it. The fly control is accomplished with fly predators (which I do not understand.)
At the end of the lane as you leave the farm is a little store that sells all the fresh products the farm produces. It is all on the honor system and John said that over the years there may be a couple of dollars shortage but they are just as likely to have a few dollars over as well. He has a strong belief in the character of people.
I could write for hours about my experience yesterday and the farm but as usual I’m out of time. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your day and be careful.