Robot farm visit opens students eyes

Day in the Dairy showcased how robots have transformed the industry

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FIELD DAY: Farmer Nick Dornauf in the robotic dairy, which he showcased as part of Day in the Dairy. Photos by Craig George.

FIELD DAY: Farmer Nick Dornauf in the robotic dairy, which he showcased as part of Day in the Dairy. Photos by Craig George.

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Dairy farmers opened their doors to students.

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For students at Launceston Grammar, their idea of how to milk a cow was pretty standard - it included a cow, a farmer and a bucket.

But their eyes were opened to the modern dairy farm on Wednesday when they attended the Primary Employers Tasmania Day in Dairy event, where they saw first-hand how a robotic dairy operates.

The students were part of the open day at Nick and Rebekah Dornauf's Gala farm, where a cow was milked in six minutes remotely.

Student Elsie Miller said she thought the robotic dairy was "really cool" to watch how the technology helped milk the cows voluntarily.

"It just goes to show that you don't have to do everything yourself, but there's technology to help you," she said.

Launceston Grammar grade 5 students Ben Watson, 11, Elsie Miller, 11, and Will Duffy, 10, on their dairy farm excursion.

Launceston Grammar grade 5 students Ben Watson, 11, Elsie Miller, 11, and Will Duffy, 10, on their dairy farm excursion.

Classmate Will Duffy agreed.

He said it was great to watch the cows get milked all by themselves.

The robotic system is voluntary, with cows entering the system, milked and let back out to the pasture whenever they wish - provided they are fit to be milked.

Cows need to have waited about seven hours in between sessions.

Student Ben Watson said he'd seen cows being milked on TV but had never seen it in real life.

"I've never seen the robots before," he said.

Primary Employers Tasmania president Felicity Richards said the day was a huge success, considering it was one of the first field days to return post-COVID lockdown.

It follows on from a previous event A Day in the Shed that focused on the shearing industry.

Ms Richards said it was an opportunity to engage with both students and the industry to educate them about robotic systems.

"We wanted people to get the opportunity to see a robotic dairy in operation and learn about the benefits the efficiencies the animal welfare benefits of that system and also have the chance to hear from some great speakers about some key issues like mental health agricultural education and to get together and talk about those things," she said.

Farmer Nick Dornauf, whose farm hosted the event, said one of the most enjoyable parts about being a dairy farmer was educating kids about the modern ways technology was used.

"I am really passionate about educating and showing them the practical side of what being a dairy farmer is," he said.

Mr Dornauf first installed robots in 2011 and runs six robots across the property. They can milk a cow in six minutes, and all the data is sent to the farm's computer.

The story Robot farm visit opens students eyes first appeared on The Examiner.

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