Puzzle pieces on his Dorchester-area farm include various technologies that help solve problems such as labor scarcity and work-life-balance challenges.
His first “technology pieces” were four DeLaval milking robots that he purchased in 2012. He bought two more in 2021 and another two in 2022.
“We initially installed the robots because we wanted to still be able to have a farm we could operate as a family without a lot of employees – but that would still provide enough flexibility, time off and cash flow,” he said. “It was difficult to capture milking the same amount of cows with a parlor system. The other reason was just the ability for cows to be in a relaxed environment with little disruption.”
Peissig currently milks 400 cows and manages 90 dry cows. He has one full-time employee plus two part-time employees who are high school students. His wife, Tolea Peissig, also helps on the farm when not working as a guidance counselor for the Medford Area School District in Wisconsin. His father, Tom Peissig, though “pretty much” retired, helps with projects, equipment maintenance and driving tractor when needed.
“Labor savings gets cancelled out by the cost of the robots in the short term but longer-term we’re seeing labor savings,” Jake Peissig said.
His total labor costs in 2022, including his own labor, were less than $1 per hundredweight. And there’s value in having fewer personnel problems and less worker compensation, he said – a benefit created by having robots.
Another benefit is there’s been a significant decrease in cull rate.
“We virtually have no culls due to injury, or problems with feet and legs,” he said.
When he culls now it’s generally related more to fertility and production problems, he said.
There was a large increase in milk production in 2012. That could be attributed in part to the robots, but it also could be due to a combination of factors, he said. Cows were moved from outdated facilities to new housing with sand bedding and cross ventilation. They were milked an average of three times daily in the robots versus two times daily in the parlor.
Editor’s note (: This is the first of a two-part article.