ORFORD — For working hard to make their cows happy, productive and comfortable, Karen and Rendell Tullar were recently honored for having the best dairy farm in New Hampshire.
And they have some robots to thank.
The Tullars operate the Tullando Farm on the Daniel Webster Highway, along the Connecticut River, where they have 500 milking cows, all Holsteins. On a 1,500-acre spread they also cultivate 400 acres of corn, 100 acres of alfalfa and 100 acres of grass to keep the bovines fed.
In a first for the Granite State, the cows are milked several times a day by one of the eight Lely Astronaut A4 robots that were installed at Tullando last June, which is when the cows also got a brand new 10,000-square-foot barn.
Rendell Tullar says the robots represent the continuing evolution of the farm, which was founded in 1956 by his parents, George Tullar and the former Barbara Anderson,w and whose name is a combination of theirs. A robot costs about $200,000, for a unit that can milk 55 to 70 cows, according to a 2013 Modern Farmer article.
Years ago, George and Barbara Tullar were honored by the New England Dairy Promotion Board with the New Hampshire Green Pastures Award, also known as the Dairy Farm of the Year Award, which was started in 1947 to recognize one outstanding dairy farm in each of the six New England states.
Winners are evaluated on production records; herd, pasture and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Now, the award has gone to a second generation of Tullars, and Rendell Tullar hopes that the pattern of success will continue when his children and even his grandchildren begin running Tullando.
“I think it’s a great honor,” Tullar said of the NH Green Pastures Award, which in 2014 was presented to the Forbes Farm in Lancaster. “Some really good farms have received this in the past. My parents received it, and it’s kind of nice,” added Tullar, to have it remain in the family, so to speak.
The Lely robots use a laser to first position an arm outfitted with a sprayer and two rotating horizontal brushes to wet and clean each of a cow’s teats and then to precisely line up pulsating suction pump over the teat.
They are changing the way Tullando does dairy farming for the better, Tullar said, and will gradually help increase the amount of milk that the Tullando cows produce. But they’ve already forever changed the way cows are milked.