DeLaval and Fair Oaks Farms celebrated the completion of a state-of-the-art robotic milking facility built for optimal cow comfort and efficiency – as well as thousands of visitors.
The Robotic Dairy Visitor Center at Fair Oaks Farms milks 750 cows with 12 DeLaval VMS™ milking system V300 units. The facility started up its DeLaval robots in April, but the operation’s visitor center – which DeLaval helped fund – will welcome its first spectators early next year.
Mike and Sue McCloskey, owners of Fair Oaks Farms, have been welcoming people to their farm in Indiana since 2004. The new robotic barn is on the same site as their existing 3,000-cow conventional dairy operation. The McCloskeys saw milking robots as the most efficient way to increase their herd size while improving cow comfort and optimizing resources.
DeLaval representatives, including CEO Joakim Rosengren (third from right), and Fair Oaks Farms owner Mike McCloskey (second from right) celebrate the completion of the visitor center.
“This really meets our dairy farm’s sustainability effort and well-being for cows. It is a nice step forward in productivity and comfort,” Mike McCloskey told a reporter from Progressive Dairy at the Nov. 14 event. “Not just a step, it truly is a jump forward in that effort.”
The robotic experience at Fair Oaks Farms aims to show tour-goers the reality of modern milk production. Visitors can watch the robots in action from an upstairs observation room that features windows into the downstairs robot room. Cameras and screens let visitors see inside the robot, and a touchscreen allows them to display different angles and stats. In addition to the robots, a theater room with videos, voice-overs, animation and a light show – all designed by an engineer/designer who formerly worked for Disney – helps visitors understand how the robots work.
Six VMS V300 robots can be seen from an overhead observatory space.
Monitors and touchscreens let visitors see real-time milking data.
Joakim Rosengren, CEO of DeLaval, told a reporter from Dairy Herd Management, “I think the most important thing is that we have people that are working together around animals and super high technology and to have that trilogy of high technology, animals and people. It takes a good cooperation and it takes a lot of value sharing to achieve that, and that's what I think we are doing with Fair Oaks.”
In addition to the Dairy Adventure experience at Fair Oaks Farms, which welcomes 500,000 visitors a year, the popular agritourist site also offers a Pig Adventure, a Crop Adventure, Mooville (an outdoor play area), the Orchard, a hotel, a cafe and restaurant, and a gas/convenience store.
To see more photos of Fair Oaks Farms’ Robotic Dairy Visitors Center, click here.