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The personal journal of technology journalist and conference speaker Randall S. Newton.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Now The Cows are Milking Themselves

As a youth, I took my turns milking the family cow. Once my hands were strong enough to do it without resting, I found it a peaceful endeavor. The milk would flow, the cow would much on grain, the barn cats would circle about. It was quiet, peaceful, and relaxing.

Milking machines have been around for generations. They are all various interpretations of a vacumn cleaner, re-engineered for the cow udder. (I suppose there are varieties for miking goats and sheep, but I've only been around cow dairing.) Now, The Times of London is reporting that on some UK and European farms, robotic milking machines allow the cows to milk themselves.

“The cows set their own agenda,” said Neil Rowe, manager of Manor Farm at Marcham in Oxfordshire which has switched to the system. “It’s about autonomy, it’s about enrichment, it’s about stepping back and allowing the cows and the system to develop a relationship.”
As implemented on Rowe's farm, the system even automatically mucks out the milking parlor as needed. I may wax nostalgic about milking old Bossie, but you'll never get me to admit there was any pleasure to be found in shoveling out the manure.


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