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Robotics companies look to fill gaps for struggling dairy farmers

An area dairy farmer says recent years have been some of the toughest he’s seen in almost four decades of farming.

“Right now, some of the toughest we’ve had in my 35 years,” says Daniel Pearson, an organic dairy farmer in River Falls. “It’s definitely a time to more than tighten your belt, but really look at expenses and really look at doing as much as you can to market everything that you have.”

Now, robotics companies are hoping to fill gaps in the industry.

The 55th annual Eau Claire Farm Show features education, entertainment, supplies and the latest technology gracing the agricultural industry.

Pearson says the labor shortage and low milk prices are factors in the tough market. So how is the problem being addressed? Enter: farm robots.

“Here is our automatic feed pusher,” says Greg Lueth, the Sales Manager at Valmetal USA, INC., pointing to a large, orange machine. “Which will automatically feed the cows and help push the feed up, keeping the material fresh.”

“Different workers in the workforce have gone to automatic, more robot feeding or robot pushing,” explains Lueth. “There’s more technology coming to help the farmer make life a little bit easier for them.”

Over at Dairyland Equipment, sales representative Greg Luebke is seeing a similar shift.

“There’s a lot of good help out there, but we’re seeing more and more of a trend going to the robotic milking, looking into it as an alternative,” Luebke explains.

“With the robot, we’re seeing cows getting milked multiple times a day and on time, we’re seeing health benefits.”

Pearson has not made the switch to robotics, but says he’s looked into it.

“As we’ve expanded, I’ve noticed that there are some efficiencies where it would be nice, I’m just not sure my age, I’d want to invest in it,” says Pearson. “So it’s definitely a movement. It’s like a lot of things in farming, we’re so independent, each one of us dairying, that we have to figure out what works for us in each situation.”

For now, Pearson looks to the future in a positive direction.

“There’s still opportunity, there’s always hope, we’re just in some of the toughest times right now,” he says.


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