Robotic Milking Becomes a Reality

02:56AM Sep 10, 2014
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Rendell Tullar

Rendell Tullar
Orford, N.H.

Tullando Farm, a 550-cow herd of registered Holsteins in the Connecticut River Valley, is heading toward a robotic milking future.



Tullando Farm is a family corporation managed by the family. The majority of the work is done by family labor. With that being said, we’ve now started up our robotic milking system.

Our July start-up of eight Lely robotic milkers went quite smoothly. All flowed well with extended family, friends, other dairy farmers and neighbors all willing to help out.

One problem quickly realized was that we had gone into this with too many cows per robot. Forty cows were moved to the dry-cow barn where they were milked in the milking parlor along with fresh cows.

When the start-up crew left, the "three week effect" (that we had been told about) became a reality. Without the start-up crew and fatigue setting in for all of us, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

With the need to get fresh cows into the robots, we decided to sell 50 cows because numbers were still an issue. (We were trying to stay under 440 cows going through the eight robots). Originally we thought we would need extra cows because of some not being robot friendly. Only five out of almost 500 cows fell into that category. We were fortunate enough to be able to sell 50 young cows to other farms.

The process started over with the training of fresh cows going to the robots. When adding fresh cows, we needed to make sure they were going to the robots at least three times per day.
More of the cows have learned the system and are using the robots without prompting. We are now managing cows from a computer rather than seeing them individually in the milking parlor. We can look at reports to see which cows need to be checked. As we get better at this process, it will help us manage our time more wisely.

Our production has stayed pretty consistent. During the first few days, they dropped a little in production but are now averaging approximately 90 lb. per day (where they were before the robots).

Tullar’s recent prices

$24.01 (3.56 bf, 2.80 prt)

Cull cows

Springing heifers