Dairy farmers expand use of robots to offset effect of worker shortages
ATHENS, Wis. (WSAW) - The pandemic has left many businesses scrambling for workers, but Miltrim Farms in Athens found a way to help the shortage it was seeing.
Miltrim Farms is bringing in more robots to expand its robot milking system.
“We decided to switch to robotic milkers for a couple of reasons,” General Manager David Trimner said. “One of the big ones is obviously labor, it’s been continuing to get more and more challenging to try and find people, especially milking cows. We felt that we wanted to get robots to help bring that security.” Trimner said it also brings different kinds of jobs that may be more fulfilling to people.
Regional Economist Mitchell Rupp said automation and technology are the new up-and-coming ways to get work done and save money. “Automation has been a trend we’ve seen on the rise, but especially more so during the pandemic,” Rupp said.
Miltrim Farms started developing the robot milking system in 2019. Since then, the farm has been more efficient and has been saving money.
Trimner oversees the farm and how the robots are making an impact. “We currently have 18 running and we’ll have 12 more that we’re going to start up next week,” Trimer said.
The system allows for the cows to be comfortable while they are being milked.
“The milking parlor is in the open with the cows,” Trimber said. “So they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. If they want to get milk, they can. If they want to lay down, they can.”
He said it also allows workers to give more attention to the cows where it’s needed. Automation and technology are leading the industry with a competitive edge.
“As we see labor costs continue to go up, and all farms have to compete with the Amazons of the world, the Walmarts... they continue to raise rates quite a bit,” Trimner said.
“In terms of what businesses can do to try and continue to attract workers and holding on to workers would be to look at their wages and benefits flexible scheduling, and also trying to build pipelines with education providers, and really up-scaling the workers that you currently have,” Rupp said.
As for the farm industry, Trimner said, “The robots are definitely paying off and we feel that that’s where the industry is going and where the world is going when it comes to technology.”
Trimner also says he knows other farms in the area that are putting robots into place. He said robots can help smaller farmers get out of milking so they can spend more time in the fields or with their families.
Copyright 2021 WSAW. All rights reserved.