Automated milking system provides flexibility for young family

As a family-owned organic dairy in Lewiston, Minnesota, Prime Pastures has embraced their two Lely Astronaut A4 automatic milking systems which have allowed them the flexibility they need for their family’s busy schedule.

With a young family that is contantly on the go, Andy and Kim Olson have found more flexibility both on and off the farm since transitioning to two Lely Astronaut A4 robotic milking systems in 2013.

“We enjoy the flexibility we have now,” said Andy. “If we want to go to our child’s soccer game at 4:00 pm, we can either do chores before we go or wait a couple of hours until we get home because we aren’t tied to a set milking schedule.”

Andy and Kim, along with Kim’s parents, Dale and Carmene Pangrac, operate Prime Pastures Organic Dairy. The farm started with the Pangrac’s in 1979. Kim and Andy joined the operation in 2005. After adopting rotational grazing in the 1990s, Prime Pastures became a certified organic dairy in 2005.

As an intensive grazing dairy following the ABC grazing method, Prime Pastures utilizes three Lely Grazeway selection boxes that allow their herd to get fresh breaks of pasture up to four times a day during the grazing season. No partial or total mixed rations are fed during the grazing season and all forage comes from the pasture. In the robot, cows are currently fed dry ground corn and organic soybean oil and they are in the process of adding high moisture corn.

The families studied and researched how to combine grazing with automated milking for 10 years before they decided to upgrade the old facility and milking system.

“We were hoping to be able to gain more time for other chores and activities, both on and off the farm, and felt the robots would be a good way to accomplish that,” said Andy. “We chose Lely because Lely had products that were proven to work on farms.”

Since transitioning to automated milking, Andy, Kim, Dale and Carmene appreciate not having to stop making hay in the afternoon and evenings to do chores.

“Plus, with the way we have things set up, one person can handle chores alone most of the time, which allows others to get away or work on other things,” said Andy.

In addition to the Lely Astronaut milking systems and Grazeways, Prime Pasture utilizes a Discovery mobile cleaner and two Luna cow brushes