November 2, 2005

Merry-Go-Round Dairy Farm

While in Maine we went to visit a dairy farm. We have been to dairy farms before. One major difference at this one was they use a "Merry-go-round" for their milking. We had never seen such a system before but it is very efficient and effective. A very basic overview.

There is a round cement rotating block with 27 stalls on it. Below and around that is a round trough that comes up like a bowl around it. The cows are led onto the merry-go-round through gated walkways and once on there are hooked up to the machines that rotate with them. Each cow makes a complete rotation which takes about 8 minutes. Water is sprayed on them to get them to back out at the end of their rotation so a stall opens up for another cow to enter. The "muck" mostly all falls off the cement into the trough where it is hosed down. An example of it can be seen in this photo below. It is not the exact one we saw but an example of a Rotolactor.

It is clean and very efficient. The whole thing is run on an engine that uses one half horsepower. When we visited they had only two people working it. One hooking the cows up at the beginning and the other unhooking them and spraying down the muck. According to the farmers they used to use a 8 shaped system that took them approximately 4.5 hours to milk 120 cows now with the merry-go-round milking system they can milk approximately 150 cows in 1 hour!

The farm visit was very fun. The kids also got to see and pet the calves. They even had a baby calf suck on their fingers. Rhiannon was not brave enough to but both Sirah and Ciaran did. Then they ended the trip by petting and feeding goats. They even got to be in the pen with the goats. They got a big kick out of the fact that one of the little ones jumped his whole body into his feeding dish.

The kids have had great field trips up here through connections at their grandparents church. They have been horseback riding, to an Elk farm, and to a dairy farm. Our kids enjoy these types of trips and since it was just us they were able to do things you often can't with a larger group. It has been fun and interesting for us as well.

Off to enjoy the last few days of vacation.


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