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5 Things I can't do without: The Lepples, automated dairy system

PD Staff Published on 09 August 2013


Lepples’ Ridge-View Dairy Farm in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is a fourth-generation family farm that has embraced technology to grow its 110-cow dairy.



In 2011, brothers, Brent and Craig Lepple, along with their parents, Joel and Jean, added 40 cows, installed two automatic milking machines and built a new freestall barn.

The robotic milking system has allowed the Lepples to better manage their dairy herd through automatic monitoring of milking, milk quality and cow activity to minimize disease, ensuring healthy and productive cows.

The Lepples identified five things they can’t do without in their new automated dairy system.

1. Two Lely Astronaut A3 Next automatic milking systems
If it weren’t for those two, the cows wouldn’t be here. They milk around the clock. They can be working while we’re sleeping.

2. Lely’s software program for the AMS units


We can see milk production, heats and health information. Everything stands right out. If we suspect a problem, the computer already caught it.

It will see a hot quarter long before it shows in the milk. Someone checks the list every morning and night, looking at udder health, body health and heat detection.

3. Lely Juno
This automatic feed pusher is handy once you’ve got it. It pushes feed around the clock.

We see a 1-pound to 2-pound increase in milk from having feed pushed up every couple of hours. It keeps the feed fresher. We feed once a day. By always moving the pile, the pusher keeps the feed cooler.

4. GEA Houle alley manure scraper
A single two-horsepower motor cleans the barn so we don’t have to. The scrapers run once per hour, every hour.

5. Open dairy barn
We have to compliment Central Ag Supply and Fox Cities Builders on the design of our 240-foot by 71-foot freestall barn. It was designed for the robots with cow movement in mind.


There are a dozen fans and a mister, but the high ceilings allow for plenty of airflow in the barn. We only wish we wouldn’t have installed the in-floor heat by the robots. Because of how well they designed the barn, we don’t need it. PD

Automation enticed the fourth generation, Brent (left) and Craig (center) to return home to farm with their father Joel Lepple (right). Even the fifth generation, Craig’s son, Coye, is excited to be involved, but apparently he’s not quite ready for the spotlight. Photo by Karen Lee.