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SOUTH HAVEN -- One local dairy farm has taken milking to another level.

In 2009 HJJ Johnson Dairy installed four robotic milkers to help milk their 250 cows, a decision that Joseph Johnson says was an easy one to make.

"The transition has been smoother than we thought. When we thought about doing this it was between getting a bigger parlor, or robots, and this was the best choice."

It took Johnson and his staff just a few weeks to get the cows adjusted to the new style where the cows now just walk right in on their own.

"Each cow has a sensor around their neck so when they walk in the computer recognizes the cow and will begin the process of milking ."

Nutrition is another key part with the robotic milkers. When a cow walks in they receive protein pellets to balance what they receive in their regular feed.

"When a cow goes in it drops a certain amount of protein pellets based on what their nutritional needs are, and the computer knows all of that."

Should a cow become greedy and want more food, the milkers can also sense they are at their recommended nutrition and kick them out.

Each cow takes around seven minutes to milk . Once the robotic milker is finished, the milk collected is flushed.

"The machine will do a cup rinse, and the milk in the jar will go to the milk tank."

The robotic milkers have been a huge money and time saver for Johnson, who says he can now focus on other things.

"Before we had these robots, milking and feeding would take us until noon. Now I can focus on other parts of the farm, as well as see my kids events."

Should Johnson be away from the barn when something goes wrong, the computer will send a message to his phone.

"Once a robot fails three cows in a row, it will shut down and send me a message on my phone."

Johnson says anyone in the dairy industry thinking about switching to robotic milkers are welcomed at his farm to check them out. You can reach him at 612-490-4720.


HJJ Johnson installed four robotic milkers on their dairy farm in 2009. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)