“My goal is to be profitable for the next generation. If our kids want to take over the farm, it will be there for them.”
Lactaria Holsteins has undergone multiple milking system upgrades over three decades, with the latest expansion including five DeLaval VMS robots resulting in a 10 percent increase in milk production.
The booming dairy industry in Manitoba led Marc and Debbie de Klein to accelerate their farm’s expansion plans. After installing three DeLaval voluntary milking system VMS™ in 2007, the family added another two VMS robots by building a new 232-stall freeflow barn with four VMS in 2016. The fifth DeLaval robot is used in a separate building for fresh and attention cows.
“The fifth robot is totally integrated with the other robots,” Marc explains. “If the milk is good, it goes to the same tank; all of the info gets put in the same database; and I can move cows between robots and keep teat placement the same. This is a real advantage of the DelPro software.”
Even with the farm’s recent expansion to 220 milking cows, labour requirements have stayed the same while production has increased 10 percent to 33L/cow/day and butterfat is at an all-time high at 4.35 percent.
In addition to giving their herd quality feed, 24/7 access to the robot and using DelPro to manage cows by exception, Marc says the cow comfort decisions they made when designing their cross-ventilated barn keep their cows healthy and productive, even when the weather proves challenging. “I welcome visitors anytime. To people not associated with the dairy industry, I specifically point out the cow mattresses, access to water and feed, and swinging cow brushes. We put a lot of effort on animal welfare.”
While the cows enjoy their new home, Marc appreciates the greater flexibility in his day thanks to the VMS robots, especially since he farms 1,000 acres for mostly feed. “You’re no longer tied to milking two to three times a day. I can spend time with my young family and go to my kids’ soccer tournaments.”