10 High-tech Tools on the Typical Farm

Robotic Milking
French breeder Jean-Pierre Dufeu shows on his tablet device, the live feed from the video surveillance cameras set up in his stable, as well as data from his milking and feeding robots. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Image

If you've ever milked a cow before, you may already know that yanking on udders isn't much fun. It's also a time-centered process (starting before dawn) that requires several farmhands who could be performing other tasks. With good help so hard to find, some farm owners are turning to robots to do their dirty work.

Robotic milking stations require just one person to feed and milk scores of cows. These machines, which allow the cows to line up for milking when they choose, don't only extract the white cream from their "users;" they also monitor everything from milk output and number of milkings per day to the number of steps that a cow takes in a given day. (A cow that spends most of its day standing around is a cow in heat). Surprisingly, cows take to the mechanical milkers very well, and they seem to like being milked as often as five or six times a day, as opposed to the usual human schedule of twice per day [source: McKinley].