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The best of both worlds

Dairy farms are constantly evolving as new technology becomes available to complement traditional practices. The balance differs for every farm.

The introduction of free stalls

The introduction of freestall barns in the 1950s allowed cows to move to different areas of the barn when they were hungry, thirsty or wanted to lie down. Milking takes place in a separate room called a milking parlour.

The milking machine

It used to take about 10 minutes to milk one cow by hand. Milking machines were first conceived in the 1870s, and after much refinement they eventually became commonplace on Canadian dairy farms in the 1950s.

Some modern milking machines are computerized and can keep track of how frequently cows are milked and how much they produce.

Milking robots

Robotic milking machines allow cows to be milked when and as often as they’d like. The robots can operate with little human intervention and will even notify the farmer of a problem via his or her smartphone.

The evolution continues

New developments in farm technology have given cows more independence. Automated backscratchers let them decide when they'd like to be groomed, and wearable technology can monitor and record their health just like smartwatches do for people.

Robotic milking systems can analyze milk as it is collected. Milk flagged as problematic is redirected to a waste container at the source, so it does not contaminate milk in the bulk tank.

Automation on the farm

Today's modern dairy farms incorporate a variety of automation technologies that do everything from grooming cows to sweeping the barn.

Robotic milking machines

When a cow feels it's time to be milked, she can simply walk up to a robotic milking machine, which senses her presence and automatically connects the cups to her teats to prepare them for milking. The robot takes care of the rest. 

Automated backscratcher

Studies have shown cows enjoy grooming themselves with these automated backscratchers for an average of seven minutes a day. 

Automatic feed pushers

Robotic feed pushers help ensure dairy cows have fresh feed to enjoy whenever they’re hungry. Some models will remix the food as well to keep it visually appealing and reduce waste.

Read more about how dairy farmers maintain quality standards

Environmental sustainability

Protecting the environment can help reduce waste and costs while keeping farmland viable for future generations.

Learn about sustainability

Regulatory procedures

Dairy farmers work with government organizations and industry partners to help maintain Ontario’s high milk standards.

Explore regulatory procedures

Animal care

Happy, healthy cows are more productive cows – and caring for them is an important responsibility.

Learn about animal care