Now in its fifth generation, the Foster’s decided to invest in technology to make their lives as dairy farmers more sustainable for future generations.
"We’re getting old enough that there’s no way we could milk four hundred cows three times a day,” said Robert Foster. That's why they invested in robotic milking machines. The robots are located in a new barn and the cows choose when they would like to be milked—making it possible for the Fosters to continue farming.
Purchasing this new equipment and creating the necessary facility was a big investment and a forward-looking business decision. The cows also love it.
“One of the main reasons this barn was built is for cow comfort,” Robert said. In the new barn, cows sleep on waterbeds atop foam pads and they scratch their backs on mechanically rotating brushes, which, according to Joanna Libback, business consultant for Yankee Farm Credit, “the cows absolutely love.”
Keeping up with the Times
Additionally, the robots allow the Fosters to collect more detailed information on each of the livestock, making it possible to address the herd as a collection of individual animals, as opposed to one large group with universal needs. “More and more people are moving to robots. That will ultimately lead to improved herd management, herd health management and reproduction management” said Joanna.
Here to Stay
Throughout Foster Brothers Farm’s transition to robotic milkers, Farm Credit was there to help. “When we were looking at putting up this facility, Joanna worked with me, helping develop a budget. She provided instrumental support” Heather recalled.
“We work with Farm Credit because it’s made up of people like ourselves that either come from an ag background or understand it. It’s important that my lender understands what I’m facing,” said Robert.
Looking to the future, Heather is hopeful that the farm will continue on into the 6th generation and beyond. “There are younger ones around, so hopefully they will want to stay in Vermont and will want to be part of this.”