Through the robot barn investment phase

4dBarn has walked through the investment phase with more than a hundred dairy farmers and we have seen closely the advantages of throw preparation phase before creating the actual layout of the facility.

We wrote a series of 8 articles for Dairy Japan magazine, of which this is the first. We write about farmstead planning and expansion options. Later we will focus on tips for minimizing project budgets and look at retrofitting as one way to reduce building costs and improve animal welfare.You also get useful tips how to learn neh working routines and dairy barn management. The final article in the series introduces a Japanese dairy farm we worked with to create a modern and functional robot barn and associated working routines.

Find the right partners well in advance

Start early, at least a year or even two years before the actual building will start. This gives you time to make all the important management decisions and adapt your mindset to them.  

To achieve good results, it's not enough to change the barn layout. You also need to change the way you work.

Remember also that the subsidy application process, asking offers from dealers, comparison of them, and negotiations with builders and architects can take a surprisingly long time. Finding the right partners will make a big impact on the success of your project. Choose partners that have experience working with projects with automatic milking systems and are recommended by other farmers.

Processing cow management and dairy barn layout.

Start with management decisions

4dBarn has helped farmers to concretize their visions of “The Dream Barn”. At the beginning of the process we stay away from barn  layouts. We have found that the best way is to focus on the management first. Before any barn layouts, you need to think about the new barn management strategies. Ask your colleagues, employees and advisers to help you find different perspectives and new ideas for your processes. After all the management choices has been done, you can turn your attention to the barn layout.

Visit other dairy farms

You can have useful tips by visiting other farms and interviewing the farm managers. On a farm visit focus on the management and working routines the farm has adopted. Visible structures or brand of milking machines are not so important facts. Ask for example:

  • “How often do you bed the stalls and what kind of machinery do you use for it?”
  • “How many mastitis cows do you have and how do you milk them?” or
  • “How many hours you work in the barn on a normal day”.
  • Questions about the fetch rate (How many cows they have to fetch every morning) or
  • The number of visits to the milking robot help you to assess whether the cow traffic is working well or not.

In other farms they also might have some good practices for colostrum management, drying off procedures, or efficient way to keep milking robots clean.  

Japanese dairy farm


Freestall barn with milking robot changes the barn layout and management

A change from conventional milking to a freestall barn with an automatic milking system is huge. Many things have to be done differently to ensure that the investment in a new building meets the expectations of efficiency and good production.

Do you know how to start a working shift in a robot barn, for example? How about taking a leap to your own future and working on a farm with robotic milking!

In few days or a week, you will get a pretty good idea of how everything works in a robot barn and the experience gives you a much better understanding of the choices you have to make.

The management of your future barn includes big things like the ventilation system or the number of cows to milk, and small but equally important things like

  • Where a cow is inseminated and
  • Who inseminates it or
  • How colostrum is fed to a newborn calf.

Once you have decided on them, your project will have clear goals and it will be much easier to achieve the barn of your dreams. This important phase is always included in 4dBarn services.

This article has been published in Dairy Japan magazine.

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Virpi Kurkela


Seuraa meitä

Ota Yhteyttä

Suomen yhteyshenkilö:



Osoite: Isokatu 16 B 11. 90100 Oulu, Finland

Yhdysvaltojen yhteyshenkilö: 

David W Kammel, Madison, WI

Puh. +1 608 212-9901

Japanin yhteyshenkilö: 

Tohtori Nahoko Kanai, Hokkaido, Japani