Profitability of automated milking systems and labor implications for Wisconsin dairy farmers

PI: Chuck Nicholson


Nicholson is an associate professor of animal and dairy sciences and agricultural and applied economics at UW–Madison who specializes in dairy economics. His research specialties include dairy markets and policy, food systems modeling, controlled-environment agriculture, and linkages between agriculture and food security. Nicholson’s position is funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Graduate student (pictured above): Jalyssa Beaudry received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from the UW–River Falls. As an undergraduate, Beaudry developed in-depth knowledge of survey creation and distribution. Beaudry is currently pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture and applied economics and is co-mentored by Chuck Nicholson at UW–Madison and Shaheer Burney at UW–River Falls.

Dairy farmers have experienced substantial market volatility, hiring challenges, and rising labor costs. These factors, and the substantial time that farmers must dedicate to their dairy operations are forcing an exodus from this industry. Automatic milking systems offer a potential solution to these issues by decreasing farm reliance on manual labor for milking. This project seeks to study the overall feasibility of automatic milking system adoption for Wisconsin dairy farms, from a financial and operations management standpoint. The outcomes of this study and policy recommendations will be disseminated by stakeholders through extension workshops and bulletins.

Publication in Journal of the ASFMRA – 2023

Shaheer Burney