As our farmer-owned co-op celebrates its Centennial, and we step boldly into the next century of Cabot, our farmers—as they always have—are leading the way. Using cutting-edge technology, they’re improving animal care, raising the bar on environmental stewardship, and producing even more of the rich milk that makes our award-winning products. How?
Meet the Smart Barn.
Let’s take a tour.
In the Smart Barn, the cows mostly set their own schedule, deciding when to rest, when to get milked, and when to chow down on an all-you-can-eat diet that’s perfectly formulated with regular help from a dairy nutritionist.
Because of this increased independence, an electronic chip on each cow’s collar tracks her movements and milking yield, which gives farmers more time and information to personalize and better attend to each cow’s health and well-being.
At some Smart Barns, robots bring the cows fresh feed throughout the day.
Managing barn temperatures year-round can be a costly challenge. To maximize comfort and cut energy costs, Smart Barns are equipped with fans that automatically circulate to cool the barn on hot days. Some of the fans even have misters for extra cooling on the hottest summer days. On cold days, low-energy wall baffles inflate to keep the barn cozy.
Whether sleeping or resting, each cow in the Smart Barn enjoys a cozy, padded mattress. Some barns use sand-filled beds and others even have waterbeds for each cow.
Cows in the Smart Barn love the self-activated bristle brushes, which give them a much-needed scratch whenever they want it—and also help keep them clean.
When they’re ready, cows voluntarily enter a robotic milking system, which cleans them and attaches hoses for milking. While they’re being milked, the system gives the cows a snack based on the quantity of milk they produce, so their individual nutrition always stays balanced. Each cow visits an average of three times a day for six to seven minutes per milking. That means each cow only spends around twenty minutes being milked each day.
To keep the barn floor cleaner, a squeegee constantly scrapes manure into floor grates. It’s a good thing, too, because a single cow can poop up to 30 gallons every day.
On some farms, the manure flows into a digester where it’s converted into electricity for local homes and businesses, or into biogas that can be used to heat hot water or in place of propane. Manure liquids become nutrient-rich fertilizer for farm crops, while odorless solids become comfy bedding for the cows. This closed loop reduces environmental impact and gives farms energy independence.
We think you’ll agree that the Smart Barn marks a huge step forward for sustainable farming and cow care. We can’t wait to see what our innovative farmers think of next.