On his Iowa dairy farm, robots milk and feed his cows every day.
“So this [robot] is one thing people really enjoy seeing and watching is the robot itself,” he explains as a cow wanders in for a milking, which is done by laser-guided robots.
“There we go, perfect connection,” Venteicher says as the milker latches on to each of the cow’s udders after wiping them clean.
Over the last year, though, he’s made connections through another tool – his smartphone.
“It completely blows my mind that every month, 35 million people have seen our page and it’s just a dairy farm,” he says.
Reply to @user_2121311 changing minds every day 💪
Last March, Venteicher started using TikTok to share his daily experiences on the farm. He added Facebook in July to reach another audience.
“Another reason we went to Facebook was because I kept getting banned from TikTok,” he explains, saying the algorithm often mistakenly flagged his videos as graphic content. “Between the two, we’re over 1.1 million followers.”
Now Venteicher says he’s always carrying his phone, ready to film even the most mundane chore. A video about power washing his barn floors often nets more than two million views.
The idea to get on social media came after Venteicher stumbled across a TikTok video a college student took of his robots during a tour.
“I saw that and I saw the comments were kind of making fun of the equipment, saying how crazy it was, we were crazy, why do we need robots?” he says. “And that, honestly, just really annoyed me.”
Now he works to explain and entertain as he battles myths and misinformation about the industry, especially claims of animal abuse and adverse impacts on the climate from farming.
“People really liked what I was showing and it kind of took off from there,” he says.
He’s introducing the next generation to an industry that’s losing small farms every year. Venteicher says younger people are shifting away from the long hours and hard work they saw their parents and grandparents put into family farms. Before his operation went automatic, he was putting in 16-hour days and missing out on time with his kids.
Now his hard work goes into his content.
“There’s less than 30,000 dairy farmers in the whole country, so there’s a massive story to tell and not a lot of people to tell it,” he says.
His tools have helped free him up for his family, but also allowed him to share his story across the globe. While most of his followers are in the U.S., he also gets views from the U.K., Australia and Ireland.
He does get trolls who have beef with what he does; some have even threatened him.
“Those comments are offset ten-fold from comments from people who tell me we completely changed their mind on the dairy industry,” he says.
So he’s just going to keep milking it.
“I screenshot every one of those comments, ‘I started drinking milk again because of your page,’” he smiles. “Those are what make it worthwhile.”