FRANKFORT, Ind. — Carter Dairy Farm in rural Frankfort is keeping up with modern technology, including the use of two robotic milking machines.
John Carter, who runs and operates the farm alongside his parents, Jeff and Kathy Carter, said they first began using a robotic milking machine in 2017.
“We started to build up our herd and added a second robotic milking machine,” said Carter, adding that the dairy farm now has a herd consisting of 80 head.
Carter said each robotic milking machine can handle about 60 cows, so the potential for growing the herd is there.
Although the dairy farm doesn’t have to have a lot of employees due to the robotic milking machines, the operation was still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carter said that when it came to the day-to-day operations of the dairy farm during strict restrictions and regulations that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, they didn’t change much. One of the advantages of having robotic milkers is that a cow has the choice to come and go as it pleases and doesn’t require someone to watch over the milking process.
“Our day-to-day didn’t change, but the prices of milk dropped,” Carter said, adding that while there was plenty of milk available, stores could not stock milk fast enough.
Carter said that he has stayed busy on the dairy farm the past several weeks and recently finished a large pasture fence that now allows him to turn the herd out to pasture daily.
“We are trying to figure out how to balance the robotic milking machines and the pasture together,” Carter said.
Carter noted that while the amount of milk production has stayed up, the amount of times the cows are milked has gone down.
Carter said that before the cows had access to the pasture, they were being milked 2.8 to 3 times a day by the machines and now they are only being milked about 2.4 times a day.
Carter said other advantages he has noticed since turning the cows out to pasture is that the packed bedding in the barn has been drier, the amount of manure that has to be scraped is less and instead of mixing feed twice a day, he only has to do it once.