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Jerry Sullivan's Blog




City Slicker Visits a Dairy Farm

Category: Field Trips | Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:56 am

Nestled within the confines of a local 900 acre state park is a small dairy farm with 150 head of Holsteins. So when a friend called and said "would we like to go to a local farm and see the cowes milked? Welllllllll......Indicated my enthusiasm for the afternoon event. "You would be really like this one," she continued, hoping to capture some interest. Visions of children filling the air with high pitched squeals and screams, falling over one another to see the animals filled my head. My rapidly waining interest was rejuvenated when she gave a brief synopsis of the event. "The cows milk themselves" she said "there are lasers and cameras and a robot." Enough 'technology' peppered the conversion to secure my curiosity and I agreed to the event. The Mrs. always game for an adventure, join the expedition. We soon found ourselves at the farm.


Ride to the farm ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

A few minutes before the starting time, the crowd of small fry was beginning to grow. Their excitement filled the air.


Through the barnyard ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




Follow the Guide ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

As the tour began parental control reduced the exuberance to a manageable roar and the guide, a park worker, began his talk.


Our guide for the event ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




First on the tour was the maternity ward where several ladies were spending their last three weeks before giving birth.


Maternity Ward ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






Cow 101 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )


The food storage was next. The food was rotated and managed with a bulldozer, obviously the cows had never heard of Emily Post. The corn had a gigantic tarp covering the silage trench, one trench was equal to 5 silos. I learned another farm term, haylage. While it sounds like Farmer Brown made this word up as I could not find it in the dictionary, the ever probing eyes of google and wikipedia easily gave an in depth explanation, more than I really needed.



Silage and Haylage ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )



Apparently the silage, corn, stalks and leaves are allowed to ferment. As alcohol is a byproduct, the ladies must find the silage yummy.



Yum, Yum, Silage (left), Haylage (right) ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Group in tow the guide led us into the barn where high-tech milking has come of age. As we stared at the complex equipment we were informed that while the cow in front of us wanted to be milked, for some unknown reason the machine was not working......there were 30 very audible groans.


The Robot Milking Machine ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )



Bossy #823 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )



The guide assured us that while we visited the rest of the modern barn facilities he would call farmer Brown and have him investigate the now silent $100,000 piece of high tech equipment.

The entourage filtered through the door into the barn area. The large barn was temperature regulated with sides that rolled up when it was too hot and lowered automatically when nights were cold. The movements of each cow was monitored with smart gates that recognized tags on each cow and would open and close as necessary.



The barn gets explained ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




Ladies only, no bull here ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )


Each stall had a mattress for the cows comfort which was cleaned daily. Manure was scraped away without need of human intervention.





What's new in the smart barn ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )


The cows moved about the facility as one would move about their own house. Alas, there were no large screen TV's with Animal planet or bull fights from Spain, maybe the next generation of smart barns will have more features.



Welcome to my home!! ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

If a cow wanted her back scratched or her hair cleaned a bovine brush accomplished the task automatically, keeping the cows healthy and happy.





Bovine Brush...A little to the right...aaaah ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




We went on to the 'smart fields' where experiments with corn and various grasses are carried out. The dairy is self maintaining with few supplemental needs.


Everything grown here ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




The nursery was next with some new born heifers. The guide announced that farmer Brown was in the building and was checking the equipment.



Heifers ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

The Pied Piper led us back to the barn and the robot that couldn't.











Farmer Brown to the rescue ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






It's all in the software ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






The robot is ready ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

Inside the farmer explained that after the milk was loaded on to the tanker the robot waited 1 1/2 hours. Cleaning proceeders necessitated the delay.





Farmer Brown (Duffy) explains the process ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )




Milking steps ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )


With the machine back in operational mode, bossy #832 was allowed to enter the milking stall where her information was recorded and the machine cleaned each nipple before attaching the hose.




The robot attaches the hoses ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






1,2,3,4 ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )



Last hose ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

When all the hoses were attached the pumps began and in consort, bossy received a treat of grain till the process was finished.




Ready to milk ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )



The machine reversed the order, removing the hoses and again going through the cleaning process. then the automatic control gate opened allowing #832 to return to the barn. Another cow was waiting and the process was again repeated.

The machine milked 6000 pounds of milk a day from the herd. Farmer Brown(actually Farmer Duffy) answered questions and the group left with a better understanding of a totally automated milking system.


Small Dairy Barn ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )

We then headed for the locally produced people treat...........ice cream! :-)


Jerry






Last edited: Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:23 am

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