In 2018, Miltrim Farms, Inc. of Athens, Wisconsin, and its owner Tom Mueller began making plans to ensure a sustainable future for the dairy. Tom and his nephew, general manager David Trimner, began touring dairy operations throughout North America, planning every detail of their new barn’s layout. The result was a state-of-the-art facility the combines features from more than 20 dairies toured by the pair.
As a dairy operation that previously used only a parlor to milk their cows, Miltrim Farms had to thoroughly plan every step of transitioning to robotic milking. The total planning process took nearly four years. Deciding between rotary or robots was just one of many decisions Tom Mueller would have to make throughout the planning process.
“Our initial plan was to add a rotary, as the existing parlor was nearly 20 years old,” explained Mueller.
Designing a Barn Layout to Encourage Cow Comfort and Free-Flow Traffic
To help with the decision-making, Mueller turned to his family and staff who all agreed that robots should be part of the conversation.
The Miltrim Farms’ team toured automated dairies throughout the United States and Canada. Right away, they could see themselves running their new dairy barn with robots. Once the decision to use Lely robots was made, the next step was to create the barn to house the robots and cows.
Both cow traffic and people traffic were the main focus when designing the barn. The new facility has a long L-shaped design with a neutral pressure system. The system aids in improving air quality and added climate control. To lower electricity costs, the barn has transparent side paneling, providing a naturally bright interior. Additionally, to save on overall costs, Mueller decided against adding head locks.
Inside the barn, each free-flow pen has three Lely Astronauts A5 robotic milking systems that are arranged in a long L-shaped design. The cows have a tremendous amount of room and can roam freely throughout the pen.