"Labor is roughly 50% of what it takes to run the same amount of cows in our parlor and we probably use around 2/3 the amount of chemicals [compared to the parlor]."
As those in the dairy industry know, finding labor to keep the farm functioning at its highest potential is a challenge. Wisconsin dairy farmer, Kyle Abel, moved part of his operation to robotic milking—a shift that improved his dairy’s performance and awarded the farm for its quality.
Dairy farming runs deep at Abel Acres – and four generations later, the farm continues their legacy in the industry. The milking technology may differ from generation to generation, but the dedication to the farm still stands true.
Abel Acres began in 1958 when Ron and Alice Abel purchased a farm in Loyal, Wisconsin. Their son, Perry, and wife, Julie, worked alongside Perry’s parents until purchasing the farm from them in 1994. Perry, Julie and their children, Jessica, Brandon and Kyle, steadily expanded the farm from the time of purchase, continuing into today with a focus on milk quality and cow comfort.
Julie was a member of the Citizens State Bank of Loyal Board and had toured robotic facilities during her time on the board. She was fascinated by the idea of milking with robots and expressed that interest with her family. Their mother’s encouragement in addition to their struggle to find adequate labor drove Abel Acres to invest in 2 DeLaval VMS robots. The family worked with Bob’s Dairy Supply, their DeLaval dealership located Dorchester, Wisconsin, to help with the facility design, installation and on-going maintenance of their robotic milking facility.
During that time, Julie was also facing challenges of her own – a battle with cancer. Sadly, Julie passed away from the disease in January 2019. The Abel family poured themselves into work on the farm to distract from the pain of such a loss.
While the time spent focusing on the cows and the farm was a distraction for Kyle, this energy was ultimately improving the performance on his farm. Between the new facilities, robots and the continued efforts performed day-in and day-out at the farm, the cows at Abel Acres are running around 3 lbs. more milk with a 20,000 lower somatic cell count compared to the cows milked in the parlor.
“Labor is roughly 50% of what it takes to run the same amount of cows in our parlor and we probably use around 2/3 the amount of chemicals [compared to the parlor],” said Kyle Abel.
Abel Acres’ improvements didn’t go unnoticed. The farm received national recognition from the National Mastitis Council, earning silver honors for dairy quality. The farm utilizes DeLaval hygiene solutions to clean their milking system and Della One Plus™ post teat dip for optimum udder health.
Tough situations build stronger people, and the Abel family is a reminder of that.