Tullando Farm, a 550-cow herd of registered Holsteins in the Connecticut River Valley, is heading toward a robotic milking future.
Technology changes daily and we have to decide if the new and latest item is of value to us at this point in time. For us, it has been a balancing act of "hands on" or implementing the technology. In 1964, when my parents built one of the first freestall barns and parlors in New England, they were not afraid to embrace the change. From then on it has been part of the way we run our farm. We started using AI in the 1960s and doing embryo work in the late 1970s. Both helped build the genetic base that we have now.
We built a new milking complex in the early 1990s but did not include electric milk meters. In the late ‘90s, an updated freestall barn was built with alley scrapers and automatic curtains.
We have always been hands-on and know our cows well. We have computer records from back at the start of cow search and now everything is on PC Dart. We have access to cow information and the last milk test info from a laptop or smartphone. We started our financial record keeping in the early 1980s on a computer. We just updated our accounting program to CenterPoint.
We use computers and smart phones daily for different tasks, from pricing to research to the long-range forecast. It has always been important that we commit proper time and management to new technologies. We harvested our fourth cutting of grass and alfalfa with a Harvest Lab on board of the custom harvester’s self-propelled chopper. That gave us instant dry matter and tonnage, a technology that we are looking forward to being part of our feeding program this spring. Last year, we built and used a silage packer on the back of our tractor for packing the bunk.
We are using what we learned from a composted bedded pack in a renovated barn that we used for about 10 years. We now use a small pack to heat an office and storage room, and fresh compost off a manure separator to heat the separator room. The heat from either heats the cement that has radiant heat pipe circulating water at about 80 degrees.
Although we have always embraced change, as we move forward in the next year, we will be making a bigger shift in terms of technology on our farm. After building our newest freestall barn in 2012 -- built for robots -- we are now ready to install them. We will have to change our management and make technology a high priority.
Tullar’s recent prices
$22.13 (3.72 bf, 3.08 prt)
Alfalfa hay (milk cow)