Last week was a very busy week for us, hence no blogging. We made an honest effort to leave early in the morning to make our way to the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It's a short 2 hour 15 minute drive from the farm, but we wanted to make it early for seminars and exhibits. The highlight of making a day trip like this is seeing old friends and dairy professionals from MN, SD, and IA. It's a blast to see everyone! The overall mood at the Expo was a positive one, even considering the milk prices and current economic situation. This positive mood was contagious. Dairy producers talking to dairy professionals about strategies to make it through the hard times to the good times down the road-inspiration for all of us! My father in law once said "Misery loves company", in regards to the low milk prices, but I would take a more positive route, "Misery brings people together, rising to the challenges".
It was exciting to see the new technology coming soon, to make milking cows easier for the dairy producer, but also making dairying even more "animal welfare-friendly". New tools are coming which will allow dairymen of all sizes to monitor daily temperatures of cows, cow movements, push up feed more often, keep cows clean and milk cows faster. All of these help to increase "cow comfort" (a term we use to describe the work to achieve an ultimately comfortable cow). Comfortable cows make for profitable cows. Some interesting technology that sparked our interest were the robotic milkers. Lely, a company from Europe, is currently producing robots to milk cows. The advantages to robots is that dairies will no longer have to hire labor to milk cows, and cows will milk themselves at their convenience and as frequently as they like. One farmer reported that his cows averaged being milk 3.8 times each day. Cows that are milking right after they calve like to be milked more each day compared to cows who will be ending their lactation soon, who like to be milked less. Cow will no longer have to wait to be milked, and dairy farmers will have more free time to focus on feeding, breeding, and cow care during the day. Lely also had 2 other new technologies of interest. While expensive compared to alternatives, the innovation was intriguing. One was a robot for pushing up TMR to cows and the other was a robot built to push manure into pits. Both were so intriguing!
Overall it was an uplifting day in Sioux Falls, we wished we could have stayed longer, but unfortunately we don't have a super cool Lely robot to milk our cows for us...... YET!!!