A Hands Off Approach - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

A Hands Off Approach

Updated: Jan 11, 2013 04:56 PM CST

It's cutting edge technology. Hands off. No more milking cows by hand at John Maxwell's farm in Scott County. Robots now have that responsibility.

Two robots milk the Jersey cows at the farm in Donahue. Maxwell has invested about three and a half million dollars into the operation.

The cows are not chased. Instead, they are attracted by feed pellets. Once they are in the designated area, a robot automatically puts the milker on. In a matter of minutes, the process is complete without the cow being milked by human hands.

Maxwell says the robotic system certainly has its advantages. It operates twenty four hours a day. The system has a computer capable of determining the quality of the milk. Maxwell says it also saves on labor expenses.  

At full production, the milking operation will be capable of providing about three thousand gallons a day. All of the milk is sold and used to make cheese.

 He eventually will have four robots. Each robot cost about 250 thousand dollars.

Maxwell says since the system went into operation in November, he has noticed better quality milk, and more milk production. His goal is to become the top milk producer in the country.

Last year, more than three thousand people from foreign countries visited his farm. He really enjoys providing tours, especially for students. He says it's an opportunity for them to visit a dairy farm and get an up close look at how technology is impacting agriculture.