Josh Willson- Empire Dairy LLC
Josh Willson is the owner of Empire Dairy LLC, which is home to three Astronaut A4 milking robots, 3 Luna brushes, and a Juno 100. They have all been running since January 2018. Before robots, Josh milked in a tie stall barn twice a day that is located right below his new facility. Not only is he the owner of his farm, but he also does nutrition work for other farmers.
“When making the choice to build a parlor or robots, the factors that led me to my decision was the availability in land and labor with cattle and employees. Someday, I’d like to have 600 cows milked by all robots. The general install of the robots was excellent, I don’t know how Seehafer’s could have done any better. The reliability of the equipment with robots is what really pushed me to robots; the equipment rarely fails. The service maintenance is easy to schedule and I have no significant downtime. The reliability of the system is second to none. After installing robots, we have half the labor and increases in production. The style of labor has shifted into more management practices to lead to the future. All the data points that come with this automation allow us to be more intense and precise with cow touches. We have learned to keep everything well maintained; the sand can be hard on equipment but we have learned what needs to be washed out everyday and kept with. We try to keep everything as clean as possible to further longevity. As far as the tags, robots, and Juno, they all work well together and complement each other. I wouldn’t want to operate without all of them working together. With the service from Seehafer’s, you won’t be dissatisfied. When there is a service call for the equipment, you don’t need a second service call to fix the first one.”
Mitch & Max Malm family
Mitch, Max, and the rest of the Malm family live in Loyal on the family’s 115-dairy cow farm. They have two Astronaut A4 milking robots that were started up in October of 2012 with 80 Holstein cows. They also have one Vector feeding system for the last six months.
“We put milking robots in 6 years ago to help with labor and making chores easier. We used to have 2-3 people doing chores morning and night in the tie stall barn and now we can do everything with one guy. The robots have made chores easier and have provided better production. We are now able to form our chores around when it works for us. If we are in the fields or with family, we can either do chores before we leave or when we get back and don’t have to stress about how well they are getting done while we are gone. We also get faster and useable data on the cows so we can be proactive verses reactive with the cows. The cows adapt to the system quicker than in the tie stall barn. They can take care of themselves and don’t need as much of our help. They like to be left alone and we feel robots made our cows calmer.
We started the Vector up six months ago to help with labor and to give a consistent ration to the cattle. The Vector has given us the option to provide different feed sources to feed the cows that make it easier on us to harvest the feed. Having the option to use different qualities of feed has made it easier to also balance the ration. Since the Vector, we have noticed a positive impact on the health of the cow. We cut our vet bill in half, the cows are breeding sooner, and only see the vet once a month instead of twice. We have little waste of feed and are now able to provide a balanced ration to our heifers. For anyone looking to install a vector, we always encourage to tour many facilities and find the way that will work well for you. When asked if we had to choose between keeping the robots or Vector, we would choose the Vector.
The biggest challenge is maintenance but we do the best we can. We try to keep it kept up so the system works for us for a long time. The service we get from Seehafer’s is great. They answer the phone at all times of the day and show up and do the work. They dig deeper to find problems and correct them until it works properly. If Seehafer’s were here 6 years ago, we wouldn’t have had as many problems.”