There are many among us who have dreamed of the good country life: living on a farm with cows, rising early to milk, and enjoying the fresh air of the countryside.
Not only does the lifestyle feel ideal, but it’s also a fairly attractive business. The United States is the second largest world producer of milk. While domestic milk consumption isn’t growing, global demand is booming. Export to China alone grew to “$706 million last year, up from $137 million in 2009.”
Domestically this increases the value of milk being sold and makes business look pretty appealing.
So now you have to take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say: Yes, I want to go live the beautiful farm life!
Or, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say: It’s a nice dream, but I’ve sat a desk all my life, how could I compete in the milk market?
If you looked into mirror #2, I have some exciting information for you.
Robots are spreading across dairy farms and they’re making farm life a lot easier. It sounds crazy, but I can assure you this is real.
A growing trend is the use of robotic milking and feeding systems, which reduce the need for hired workers and free farmers from direct animal care work in the dairy world.
These robots are as close to R2D2 as I’ve encountered. They are so advanced that they feed, herd, clean, and milk cows, while performing a wide range of tests monitoring the health of the cow and its food intake. With a system that places transponders around the cow’s neck or in the ear, these robots can send text messages when they perceive early signs of illness in a cow or that one is ready to be fertilized.
These systems are further noted to improve animal welfare, increase cow health and reduce mastisis. Since farmers have set milking hours, cows who don’t need to be milked get milked. These robotic systems can be open all day and can permit additional milking periods at the convenience of the cows.
So if you’re intimated about a life of manual labor, but want to run a dairy farm, consider a robotic friend to make your life a lot easier — your own little C3PO. While expensive, it may make the transition manageable and even appealing.
For those who are not looking for a major lifestyle shift, it’s still pretty amazing to consider when having a cup of milk: Do I say thank you to the farmer who did the milking? Or to the machine who actually did it all on its own?