OAKVILLE, Wash. – The Austin family’s cows seem a lot more contented since the robots took over the milking. It’s the humans, not the cows, who have had to make the biggest adjustments.
“At first, you’re a deer in the headlights,” Ron Austin recalled at the family farm, 90 miles southwest of Seattle. “You get a call from the robot, and you don’t know what to do. The cows learned faster than we did.”
The Austins and about a dozen other families in Washington state are part of a rising robot revolution in the dairy industry.
More than 30,000 autonomous milking machines have been sold around the world, and the trend is just now picking up speed in the United States. By 2025, as much as a quarter of the cows in North America could be milked by robots.