A few years ago, the Giroux family’s community pulled together to help after the complete loss of their 1940s barn to fire. Todd Giroux runs the farm with the support of his parents, Joe and Carolyn, and his wife, Vicki. At a time like that, “There’s a lot going through your head,” Todd recalls. “There are not many chances in life that you really get to start over.” The family decided to rebuild a free-stall barn and buy a pair of used robotic milking machines. A fire-singed cross of wood from the original barn hangs on a wall in the new barn. It was made by one of Todd’s sisters and blessed by his brother who is a priest. “It’s nice to have a piece of the old barn in the new barn,” Todd says. But, he adds, “Instead of looking back, we’re going straight forward.”
Todd had been investigating robotic milking machines for about a decade, he says. While he loved the routine of daily milking, enabling the cows to control their own milking schedule has made for a healthier, more productive herd. The computerized system gathers detailed information about each cow and the farmer has more flexibility, too. “If I want to go check out my daughter’s soccer game, I can,” Todd says happily, noting that he can finally spend most of Christmas day with his family and not in the barn milking.