Farm of the Future
And when area dairy farmers need a hand, National Grid is there to help.
Steve and Susan Sondericker are fourth-generation owners of Friendly Acres Farms, which sits on one thousand acres in the town of Attica. The Sonderickers own 480 cows which, on a daily basis, produce around 40,000 lbs. of milk that is delivered to a nearby cheese processor.
When the Sonderickers wanted to upgrade their equipment and facility to streamline the milking process, their banker told them about National Grid’s three-phase electric power economic development program, which provided them $86,000 toward an electric system upgrade. The incentive helps with the high costs related to connecting operations in rural areas that are located hundreds of feet from the road.
As part of a $1.2 million dollar investment, the family also installed a robotic milking system that uses laser precision to fit the milking machines to the cows’ udders. After milking, the units disengage from the udders, are sterilized and made ready for the next cow.
The unit never shuts down and milks the cows as they feed. It can be monitored with a mobile device, which receives notifications if there’s a problem with something in the system.
The high-tech system has earned the Sonderickers a measure of celebrity. That’s because their farm has become a destination for farmers and others who want to learn more about robotic milking. Since installing the system in 2016, the Sonderickers have hosted people from California, the Midwest, South America, Canada and Europe.
More information about National Grid economic development grants can be found at www.shovelready.com