Family members have been the fuel keeping the French Brothers' farm going and the cows milked for generations. They farm on 1,600 acres, 600 of which is for hay and pasture, and they milk just over 100 cows.
Family is at the heart of their Virginia farm and is the fuel that keeps it running. “Every niece, nephew, son, and daughter have milked cows at some point on this farm,” said Billy French. He recalls milking cows twice a day from the time he was in third grade until he went off to college for a semester.
The dairy made the innovative switch to robotic milking in 2016 when they installed two LELY robots. Robotic milking prioritizes cow comfort and gives the cows the opportunity to provide fresh dairy goodness whenever they want. The cows can walk up on their own and get milked when they feel the need. The family is still able to monitor each of the cows and get notified if a cow misses her turn. The machines gather all kinds of information about each cow and their milk, helping the family gain a better understanding of their herd and being able to tailor nutrition to their individual needs.
The robots also mean that the Frenches don’t have to be present during milking, which allows them more time to tend to other farming duties and maximize their workday.