Ninety years ago, Bradner Farms, near Abbotsford, British Columbia, milked cows by hand, shipped milk in cans, and transported goods by horse and buggy. Today the farm, renamed Golden Gate Farms in 2014, is run by fourth generation farmers Sarah and Bud Yoder and utilizes robots to help milk and feed their herd. The farm has been certified organic since 1998 and was the first farm in western Canada to ship organic milk.
Each cow wears a high-tech tracker (sort of like a Fitbit) that monitors their activity, including rumination, how much they have eaten and how many steps they have taken. It is also synced with the robotic milker to record milk production and quality. All of this data can tell the Yoders how healthy each animal is, or alert them if one of the cows needs special care or attention.
“On an organic farm, we have fewer options if a cow was to get sick, so prevention is key,” said Sarah, “The robots tell us so much information about each animal's health which allows us to always stay one step ahead.”