Hundreds of cows line up for robot milking

Robots on Quebec farm can milk up to 600 cows a day. Owner hopes technology will ensure his farm stays in the family.

A large robotic dairy farm in Quebec may signal the future of technology for Canada's dairy industry.

At Jean-Marie Landry's farm in St. Albert, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec, robotic technology cleans and milks the cows.

Landry uses 10 robots to milk up to 600 cows a day, with one person overseeing the operation at any given time.

Landry's local credit union financed the $6 million upgrade to his barn, not a government subsidy. He expects it will take about 15 years to pay it off.

Lely Canada makes the robots and has sold over 100 in the last few years. Spokesperson Jamie Cameron said the $250,000 price tag isn't deterring buyers.

"A lot of the small family farms really want to stay in business, but financially it's not always possible to keep the laborers," said Cameron. "With this machine, they can do more by themselves."

Landry said he bought the robots because he needed to modernize, which he believes is the best way to ensure his family farm stays in the family.

He can produce up to 22,000 litres of milk every day, the maximum under federal quotas. As smaller farms in the area begin to shut down, Landry plans to pick up their quotas to expand his operation.