This post is sponsored by Indiana Dairy. All opinions and fascination with robots are my own.
As a mom of boys, I’ve become a bit of an expert on the things that boys love. Two things that are high on that list are animals and robots. And who could blame them? I’ve always been an animal lover, and I think robots are pretty awesome, too.
You know what would be even more awesome?
Putting robots and animals together. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with farmer Sammy Jones of Jones Robotic Dairy Farm in Star City, Indiana. I learned so much about the benefits of using robots in milking dairy cows, and now I’m planning a trip so my boys and I can see it in person!
The farm has been in the Jones family since 1919. Sammy and his wife Pam currently operate the farm, and their son works full-time on the farm as well, making the Jones Dairy Farm a fourth-generation farm. Jones Dairy Farm was the first in the state of Indiana and tenth in the United States to use a robotic milking parlor. They’ve been using robotics since 2003, and updated to their current system in 2009.
So why robots? How does that work? I HIGHLY recommend you take a look at this short video, where Sammy does a great job explaining the process and why it works:
Here are a few more things I learned when talking to Sammy:
The Joneses are “Cow-ologists.” They are interested in learning how the cows think. By thinking like a cow, the farmers can coax the cows to do what they want, rather than forcing them. (Maybe I should employ this with my kids….)
Robotic milking leads to higher milk production. Robots allow the Joneses to milk faster, which increases the number of milkings they can do per day. Being able to milk three times per day (rather than two) increases the farm’s milk production 12-14%.
It’s up to the cow. The robots allow the cows to decide how often they would like to be milked. Because the cow is not waiting on the farmer to come and relieve her of her milk (and all that excess weight), there’s less pressure on her tendons and ligaments. This leads to a healthier cow that can stay in the herd longer – which is a great benefit to the cow and the farm.
The Joneses create a prime milking environment. A few years ago, the Jones family worked with a local student on her science fair project. The student wanted to see if playing recordings of a bawling calf would increase milk production. Not surprisingly, she found that playing the calf-bawling increased milk production by 1 1/3 lbs. per cow, per day. On an individual level that’s not much, but multiply that by 120 cows and 365 days…big difference! I found this absolutely fascinating, and I love that the Jones family was so open to working with a student, and using her theory.
The Jones family loves to educate. Sammy and Pam love teaching both children and adults about where their food comes from. The farm receives between 600-800 visitors each year, and has had visitors from 35 states and 15 different countries. The farm has a Facebook page where you can stay up-to-date on the latest farm happenings – and see some pretty adorable shots of the cows! Sammy is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and his excitement for his job is contagious.
I learned so much from Sammy in our short conversation about his farm, and it reinforced for me why it’s so important to teach our children about farming, no matter where we live. The next time you pour yourself a glass of milk, take a minute to consider where that milk came from. It may have even been brought to you via robot!
Thank you so much to Sammy Jones and the Jones family for taking time out of your day to speak with me.