The use of automated systems (also known as "robots") is increasing at fast rates in the U.S. Despite this trend, there is still a lot to learn about their management. The program Managing Risk Associated with the Use of Automatic Milking and Feeding Systems (Robots) in Dairy Farms of the Southern Region was developed to help farmers understand the benefits and drawbacks of using robotic systems in dairy farming to better decide on the use of these technologies.
Despite the adversities imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we delivered 5 workshops, to which 99 farmers, industry personnel, and extension educators attended. Also, in partnership with a milk processing company from the Mid-Atlantic region, we moderated a webinar with a panel of dairy producers utilizing robotic milking systems. Sixteen farmers and industry personnel attended this webinar. Finally, our program team visited farmers for one-to-one meetings and provided "tailored" analyses to evaluate the implementation of robotic milking systems at their farms.
Metrics from the program evaluation showed that the understanding of production and financial risks increased by 41 and 50%, respectively, among the attendees. Also, in two cases, farmers reached the stage of deciding (favorably or unfavorably) about using of robotic milking systems.