Wordless Wednesday — Sunny Glade Farms Thanksgiving Video

For this Wordless Wednesday, we have a video diary of photos from Sunny Glade Farms.

On May 4th, 2013, a fire claimed the barn and about 100 cows at Sunny Glade Farms near Blumenort, Manitoba. The Plett family has since rebuilt and upgraded their dairy operation. Their new facility has incorporated four Lely A4 Astronaut robotic milking systems and a Vector automatic feeding system. Watch this video the fire, the aftermath and their tremendous new facility.



Image from www.steinbachonline.com that was part of the article “Sunny Glade Farms Up-and-Running.”


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Ben Vanderbilt: A lean, robot herd-managing machine

This article recently appeared in Progressive Dairyman

Most people consider searching Craigslist for a bike, couch or even a roommate. Not many can claim that an advertisement on this website is how they began a career as a manager for a 500-cow robot-milking herd.

Similarly, it’s not typical for a dairy owner to hire a new herd manager who has very little cow experience. For SwissLane Dairy Farms in Alto, Michigan, this is exactly what happened. And it was a perfect fit.

In 2011, SwissLane Dairy Farms, a 2,000-cow operation, had plans to shift about 500 cows to a new freestall barn with eight automatic milking units. In looking for a herd manager for this new facility, the owners placed an ad on Craigslist and came across candidate Ben Vanderbilt.

Ben’s cow experience was limited, but his manufacturing experience as a production supervisor for an aerospace facility was promising. The owners of SwissLane Dairy Farms were not only looking to become more labour-efficient through utilizing their new robots, they were also looking for someone who could think “lean.” Ben Vanderbilt was the man for the job.

From the start of Ben’s career at the dairy farm nearly three years ago, he has acquired “cow sense” through the owners’ mentoring and has brought a wealth of knowledge from his five-year manufacturing career and put it to work at SwissLane Dairy Farms.

“The way I put it, I was manufacturing electronic circuit cards before, and here we’re manufacturing milk. The way you manage and utilize robots is similar; hitting production numbers is all quite the same,” Ben says.

The manager says his on-farm management style has been heavily influenced by his past. “The company I came from was very lean-driven, so much that we had our own lean department with about seven people overseeing it.

This article was written  by Lely Marketing Coordinator, Torie Noellsch. Read more.

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Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!


Dalton’s family: Sister Breeanne, brother Dillon, mother Jennifer and uncle Jeremy Dankert

You could see the pride and passion in young stockman Dalton Freeman at this month’s World Dairy Expo, held in Madison, Wisconsin. After all, he took home a first place ribbon and his cow Jonlee Secret Langwathby earned him the Champion 4-year old highest production award in both the junior and open show divisions.

Traveling to the World Dairy Expo is a family tradition. Dalton falls in the footsteps of his 90-year old grandfather. “My mom says grandpa has been coming to Expo forever,” said Dalton. Unfortunately he was unable to make the trip this year, so Dalton was awfully excited to take home his prizes and bragging rights. Taking care of the show cattle and the dairy herd is a family affair. Dalton’s uncle Jeremy assisted the family at Madison, while Monty, Dalton’s dad stayed home to keep an eye on the dairy operation.

The Freeman’s were featured during the 2011 World Dairy Expo as a part of the Virtual Farm Tour series. The family milks their herd with three Lely Astronaut automatic milking systems. “The robots are awesome, that’s how Jonlee is milked at home and how we keep track of her production,” said Dalton.

Congrats to Dalton. Look him up at the 2015 World Dairy Expo to see what he and his siblings bring to the “Dairy in our DNA” event. Dalton’s little brother is chomping at the bit to get his chance to lead a Champion through the ring. Rest assured the future of dairy operations are in great hands and the young competitors will keep coming back to the show ring to carry on the family traditions.

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Lely Farm Management Support (FMS) Teams Help Producers Achieve Goals

Lely Farm Management Support (FMS) teams provide one-on-one support, tailored to each specific operation, before, during and after robot installation.

Lely’s local FMS advisors work with customers to lay out a program three months before startup and throughout the first year, making several visits and providing assessments and conducting webinars until the farmer is comfortable to run the herd and robots.

Throughout that process, local FMS advisors will provide ongoing support in the following areas:


  • Best practices to maximize milk production, reproduction and overall profitability.
  • FMS will help producers learn to use the Lely T4C management system in daily business. In addition, FMS advisors will help customize Lely T4C InHerd to the farm to get the maximum benefit from this unique herd management tool.
  • When the time of the initial milking comes, advisors will explain the protocol, and will build a customized plan that covers how to create different groups in the barn and how to organize staffing. The FMS advisor will be on-farm to assist during the move to robotic milking to help train cows for the quickest transition possible.
  • FMS advisors will provide guidance for daily routines 
that need to be adapted or changed. A tailored plan will be made according to each producer’s barn layout and logistics.
  • Besides start-up support, FMS advisors are trained to assist in pinpointing improvements that can be made on farm to maximize herd efficiencies.
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#Wordless Wednesday

#Wordless Wednesday -These gentlemen were in Pella recently for Lely Installation Training. This is the first step to becoming a certified Lely robot technician. Good work!

WDE 2014 010

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Top 9 Reasons Water Quality Matters for Dairy Cows – from Dairy Herd Management

Recently, in Dairy Herd Management, Dr. Dana Tomlinson with Zinpro Corporation wrote some of the top reasons why water quality matters for dairy cows.

Aside from air, water is the nutrient required in the largest quantity by dairy cattle. A cow consumes 30 to 50 gallons of water per day. Dairy cows spend four to five hours per day eating and only 20 to 30 minutes per day drinking water, so it is important to make water easy for cows to access to meet hydration needs.

Water accounts for 87 percent of the milk a cow produces. Poor water intake and quality in lactating dairy cows can impact health. The results range from depressed immune function to decreased fertility and from increased off-feed events to erratic eating patterns.

Dairy cows require adequate amounts of water to maintain blood volume, tissue function, rumen activity and proper flow of feed through the digestive tract.

Below are the top nine reasons but read the complete article in detail for more information about the importance of water quality and analyzing test results.

The Lely Calm automatic calf feeder guarantees the optimal growth and development of these young animals.

The Lely Calm automatic calf feeder guarantees the optimal growth and development of these young animals.

9. Calves need good water to thrive.

8. The impact of water issues is diverse and far-reaching.

7. Dissolved solids impact dairy cow performance.

6. Drinking water provides 60%-80% of dry and lactating cows’ water needs.

5. Poor water intake and quality in lactating dairy cows2 can impact health.

4. Dairy cows require adequate amounts of water to maintain blood volume.

3. Dairy cows spend 4 to 5 hours per day eating and only 20 to 30 minutes per day drinking water.

2. Water accounts for 87% of the milk a cow produces. 

1. Following air, water is the nutrient required in the largest quantity by dairy cattle.

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Dairy Technology Tours This Week in Wisconsin

The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW) Dairy Technology Tours will visit nine robotic milking farms in three different regions this week, departing at 8:30 a.m. and returning at 5 p.m. each day. The farms will have up to eight robot units, featuring Lely and competitive models. Tour stops also will focus on other technologies, such as robotic feed pushers, auto calf feeders, heat technology and the latest technologies affecting the dairy industry. 

Oct.14Seminarspic20556During the tours, you will hear firsthand from dairy producers why they switched to new technology, how it has changed their operations and the technology’s impact on management, production and labor. 

You can join the tour bus for just one day, two days or all three days. The tour buses will depart from a different location each day. Included in the tour is a full day of tour stops, networking with fellow dairy farmers and industry members, transportation, lunch and refreshments. 

The tours are scheduled for October 14, 15 and 16, departing at 8:30 a.m. and returning daily at 5 p.m. Attend one day, two days or all three days:

  • Tues., Oct.14: Busses board and return to Farm & Fleet (2421 Old Humes Rd., Janesville, Wis.)
  • Wed., Oct. 15: Busses board and return to PDPW Headquarters (820 N. Main St., Juneau, Wis.)
  • Thur., Oct. 16: Busses board and return to Stony Creek Inn (Kinney Coulee Rd., Onalaska, Wis.)

The PDPW Dairy Technology Tour is an accredited training program with the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (UW-SVM) and veterinarians may receive up to 9.6 CEUs/day. The tours have also been pre-approved by ARPAS for up to 8 CEUs for all three days. Register here

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Richmond Farm Tops in Ontario with Nine Milking Robots

Farmers Forum writer, Brandy Harrison, recently featured Martin Schouten of Richmond, Ontario who operates nine Lely A4 Astronaut robotic milking systems.

Here’s an excerpt from the article. 

They’ve become Lely loyalists, Schouten admits.

“We thought of Lely like Apple — people love them just because and don’t always have a good reason. We know now. We’re Lely supporters too. We know the job they do on our cows — they’re happy, healthy, and milking well.”

TAstronaut A4 Cow walking outhe Schoutens were on the verge of packing it in and resigning themselves to parlor milking.

With their minds made up, the Schoutens swapped out five double-stall robots for nine Lely Astronaut A4s to milk 350 to 360 cows — no itsy-bitsy retrofit.

“We had to do something,” says Richmond dairy farmer Martin Schouten. “In hindsight, we wish we’d made the decision quicker.”

Read the entire article for more details.

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Lancaster Farming Article: Peach Bottom Cows Fed by First U.S. Vector Robot

Lancaster Farming published an article by Charlene M. Shupp which features Galen Nolt and his family who operate Westview Farm in Peach Bottom, PA.

Lely VectorA year ago the Nolt family broke ground on a new dairy barn with Lely A4 Astronaut milking systems. That was followed by the addition of a Lely Vector automated feeding system. The 325-acre farm has 190 milk cows and 60 heifers, as well as a 3,000-hog finishing operation and 20,000 brown laying hens.

Below is an excerpt of the article.

Galen Nolt’s children are a part of the farm team. Darwin and Michael work full time, and Jennifer and Sherlyn are part-time employees.

The robotic milking system went online in March and has three A4 milking robots. Later in the spring, the Nolts started using the Vector feeding system. The Nolts are the first family in the United States to install the Vector system, although several have been installed in Canada.

With the new barn, Nolt realized he would have to update his feed room. After pricing a conveyor-belt feeding system, he decided it would be worth considering the Vector and — traveling with Amos Fisher from Fisher and Thompson — visited a farm in Canada that was using the system.

Nolt said he was sold. “I texted the boys and said this is it,” he said. “I was really impressed.”

The Vector works independently and can feed cows 24 hours a day. Nolt said he has stopped by the barn at 2 a.m. and found the Vector feeding the cows. He said he was amazed to see that the cows were up and eating.

What he likes best about the system, Nolt said, is its consistency. Vector feeds the cows based on their needs. For example, on the day of the tour, the summer heat had broken and the cows were eating more.

A robot adapts to circumstances, eliminating feed waste, whereas an employee would likely feed the same ration at the same times each day.

 Read the entire article that appeared in Lancaster Farming.

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#Wordless Wednesday – World Dairy Expo 2014

We enjoyed our time at the 2014 World Dairy Expo. Here are just a few of the images that capture the fun we had. It was great to see so many people. Visit Lely again soon!

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