Reviving Japan's Dairy Industry, One Milking Robot at a Time

Aya Takada¬ for Bloomberg: ¬ Jin Kawaguchiya gave up a career in finance to help revive Japans ailing dairy industry -- one robot at a time. In a country that relies increasingly on imported foods like cheese and butter, Japans milk output tumbled over two decades, touching a 30-year low in 2014. Costs rose faster than prices as the economy stagnated, eroding profit, and aging farmers quit the business because they couldnt find enough young people willing to take on the hard labor of tending to cows every day. But technology is altering that dynamic. On the northern island of Hokkaido, Japans top dairy-producing region, Kawaguchiya transformed the 20-cow farm he inherited from his father-in-law 16 years ago into Asias largest automated milking factory. Robots extract the white fluid from 360 cows three times a day and make sure the animals are fed and healthy. The machines even gather up poop and deposits it in a furnace that generates electricity. ¬ Cont'd...

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