Robotic or automatic milking systems (AMS) have steadily increased in popularity in the dairy industry since the installation of the first commercial unit in 1992 in the Netherlands. In 2015, the number of AMS units installed was over 25,000 worldwide. Here in Nebraska, there are two commercial dairy farms that having installed multiple AMS units, Demerath Farms (Plainview, NE) and Beaver’s Dairy (Carleton, NE). Demerath Farms installed four AMS units in February 2017 and are set up to milk 240 cows. Beaver’s Dairy began milking with five AMS units in May 2017 and is set up to milk 300 cows. Additionally, there are several other dairies that are looking into milking robots for their farm. Typically, 60 cows are milked on one robot. One robot will likely cost the producer anywhere from $150,000- $200,000.
The dairy industry is facing a quality problem due to the presence of certain bacteria capable of surviving the pasteurization process. This group of bacteria is called “sporeformers”, and they have the ability to affect the quality of dairy products during storage (i.e. fluid milk, cheeses) and limit their potential markets (i.e. milk powder). Since no current technology or interventions are readily available to control this group of bacteria, especially at farm level, the identification of their contamination routes is essential information to design potential interventions in order to control them.