The Robotic Dairy Barn

People from all over the world have traveled to Brad and Monica Nussbaum’s Cottonwood Ridge Dairy near Garretson, S.D.

Since the family started using their new dairy barn in March 2014, they’ve had visitors from as near as the local elementary school and as far away as Russia and Japan. Their dairy has been featured in newspapers and on television and studied and examined by college students and other farmers.
   
“It gets a little hectic every once in a while,” Brad said.
The draw is the Nussbaum’s tech-packed barn, the first in the state built as and not retrofitted to be a robotic dairy barn.
  
Each of the approximate 120 cows wears a collar with a transponder that along with the milking robot gathers information about each cow including rumination pattern, the number of steps it takes, weight, body temperature and milk production. In all, the technology collects over 140 pieces of data on each cow that can be viewed from a monitor in the barn. The family can view data for the entire herd or for each individual cow. Brad said all that data can be overwhelming.
  
“It’s a management decision as to how much of that you use,” Monica said. “We may not use a certain feature, but then when we visit with someone else and they say, well we didn’t either until we found out that if we used it, it helped us in another area.”
  
Monica said a nurse who visited Cottonwood Ridge Dairy told the Nussbaums they know more about the health of their cows than her doctor knows about her health.
  
In addition to data collection and monitoring, the technology eliminated the four-to-five hours twice a day that the family used to spend milking.
  
“We don’t milk,” Brad said. “The robots do.”

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