October 10, 2018

How One Farmer Evaluates Tech ROI

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

At Homestead Dairy cows are milked with robots and calves are fed by machines. That’s just the beginning of the technology used on their farm. When evaluating new technology, Brian Houin of Homestead dairy says the first thing you need to figure out when evaluating new technology is how it will improve your business. 

“That's the first key, you know, then you can start putting dollar values to it to see if it's going to give you a return on your investment, whether you're trying to reduce your labor, or increase your, your, your growth on your animals, or just a more milk production better, you know, progress on your cows, all these technologies can do that as long as you learn how to utilize the tools that are given to you,” he says. 

When evaluating a new technology’s return on investment, Houin says you have to look at the whole picture. For example, when you look at auto feeders the first thing you’d notice is the return on labor, but Houin says the biggest return was one they didn’t even consider before they put in the feeders. 

“The biggest thing that we didn't find until after the fact was the increase growth and getting those animals back into the milking string quicker,” he explained. 

At the VAS Connect Summit on Tuesday, nearly 75% of the producers in the audience said they expect at least some of their cows to be milked using robots in the next 10 years. 

While he agrees more farms will have robots in the future, Houin says robots aren’t for everyone. 

“I don't know that robotics is for everybody. You know, certainly it's another tool and if you are able to adjust and adapt your management to that tool, it can very be very successful,” he says. “But these technologies aren't for everybody.”