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      Milking cows with robots

      Dairy Farming can be a rigorous full time job requiring 365 days of dedication -- countless hours invested from sunrise to sunset. But new technology is helping farmers save time, money and energy.

      In the past year the Bill DeVooght, owner of the DeVooght Dairy Farm in Skandia purchased two robots that milk their cows for them, calling it a â??good investment.â??

      â??I enjoy doing what I want and if my kids decide to farm they can go places that I couldnâ??t,â?? the farmer says.

      When cows feel like getting milked they voluntarily walk into the machine. Grain is dispensed for the animal while the robot hooks onto the cow milking it in minutes. The family use to dedicate 16 man hours a day, or 5,840 hours a year, just milking. Now it's only three man hours cutting the time by 80%.

      â??Just keeping the robot clean and fetching late cows that didn't go in themselves,â?? Olivia DeVooght explains, Bills daughter.

      The machine is even personalized for every cow. Animals wear a collar that is scanned once they walk into the stall. With it the machine tracks how much grain cows need, how much milk to expect it knows, its weight and how much activity they've had during the day. The DeVooght Family knows immediately if a cow isnâ??t â??holding her weight.â??

      â??Every single time a cow goes into a robot we know the fat content, the protein content, as well as the quality of that milk,â?? Olivia adds.

      In the short time frame since the purchase the farm is seeing a 15 percent increase in milk a day per cow, increasing daily production by 16 pounds. The two machines in total cost half a million dollars. A high price to regain something they say is worth more than profit... time to actually enjoy life.