The cameras are in and the robots are coming to H-shaped Longs Peak Dairy near Pierce, Colorado where two bus loads of visitors were welcomed Friday to tour the 24/7/365 milking parlors, help welcome about 30 new borne calves that are arriving daily this time of year, and watch the operation of a dairy design for the care and comfort of some of the nation’s most productive cows. Longs Peak, where about 5,500 cows are milked three times a time filling six big tanker loads, was one of the stops on the Greeley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Ag tour, which this year was titled “The Udder Side of Dairy; More than Cows and Milk.”  True, enough, but it was also a lot of cows and milk. dairycam_406x259At Longs Dairy, the milking never stops. Thirty-three cows on each side of the parlor are hooked up at a time to the equipment. It takes about six minutes for each to drain the available milk. And then those cows are let go and others arrive. The dairymen on shift are all business, working under the cameras, not even horseplay is allowed. Longs Peak is designed for the care and comfort of the cows  That H-shape means no producing cow is more than about 900 feet away from the milking parlor, and can within about 45 minutes be returned to a spacious pen where her new feed and clean bed is waiting.   The non-stress routine is what keeps their milk production up and Longs Peak profitable. The dairy provides jobs for about 110 people.   In addition to the milking, the cleaning, feeding, calving and other work is never done. Filling jobs in the tenth most productive farm county in the country isn’t easy. And Longs Dairy has already been to Germany to check out increased use of robotics in dairy farms, which they predict are coming here soon. Not this year or next, but within five years, almost certainly. The cameras and robotics are really only the most obvious ways that the Long Peaks Dairy owners look to control every action and outcome on the farm.  Nothing is left to chance. To control flies, they’ve brought in squadrons of wasps; a natural enemy. They are currently looking for a similar natural way to control the pigeons that are attracted to the dairy. And in an arid area just south of the Wyoming border where annual rainfall should top out at about nine inches, Longs Peak Dairy was drenched with 33 inches of rain over a few weeks last spring. Good news is its ground water detention system performed as it was designed. The most thinking, of course goes into water use. Water is used to cool the milk, the refrigeration units that cool milk to 37 degrees, and then heated again so animals can drink it, and then used agains to flush alleyways and forestall barns. Its solids and liquids are then separated by centrifuge. Liquids get mixed with irrigation water for fields and solids are composed and used for bedding. Dairies have to contend with 20-25 federal, state and local regulatory agencies. We learned at breakfast that the day has passed when one might decide to turn  any farmland they own into a dairy. The way its done  now is to first identify the land with the requirements that might best  be able to meet the regulations that will be imposed upon it. The result is probably going to be more dairies like Longs Peak, with its open design and sense of order. We were encouraged to walk among the facilities including the “condominiums” to keep new borne calves safe in all kinds of weather before they are old enough to be kept in the pens with others. Nearby, their milk is pasteurized before its brought out to them in bottles on a specially built cart. Longs Peak does not gamble with safety of their calves. Chances are all of the milk produced at Longs Peak will end up at Leprino in Greeley, which requires the production of about 80,000 milk cows a day to make about 5 million pounds of mozzarella cheese per day. Leprino was our last stop of the day, and it made the local news as the Denver-based, privately owned company wants to make a third expansion to the gleaming Greeley plant, which began production  with nonfat cheese in 2011, and the added another cheese and whey line in 2013. It’s hard to imagine a production facility with more built in food safety than Leprino. We got inside after promising not to take any pictures and signing non-disclosure agreements. Those requirements are to protect intellectual property from being stolen, according to Leprino managers. We can say  it appears they never stop cleaning this place and their “red rooms” requiring biosecurity measures before moving from one area to another are all very impressive. Before we moved from a very modern training room, we each had to pass muster for putting on our smocks and rubber booties, hairnets, ear plugs, helmets  safety glasses. Leprino needs fresh milk and located in Weld County because it was already the 20th largest dairy producing county in the U.S. and with 4,000 square miles of friendly to agriculture land, it could and did expand. Dairy Today reports 84 percent of the nation’s dairy expansion in past five years occurred here. It’s added about ten “Longs Peak” class of dairies since Leprino and  Weld has moved up to being the 12th largest dairy county in the U. S. The question now is whether Northern Colorado can recruit enough dairy investors to do that again because a larger Leprino will need the production of 30,000 to 60,000 more cows.