Raise Heifers with Healthy Hooves

WalkwayLely1Regardless of your herd size, intentionally managing hoof health will help ensure heifers’ feet are healthy and will sustain them through their milking years.

Preventing lameness in dairy cows starts early, according to Karl Burgi, a hoof health specialist and consultant. Burgi advises farmers to look for digital dermatitis in breeding age heifers to reduce the risk of lameness.

“When digital dermatitis does not occur in heifers, the occurrence in the milking herd will be minimal with good management,” said Burgi, who works with dairy producers throughout the world and consults on proper hoof care and trimming techniques.

Heifers that have had a lesion once, have a 45 percent chance of recurrence. With two lesions during rearing, that number increases to 67 percent.

Lameness in dairy cattle is estimated to cost between $90 to $400 per cow. Cost of treatment, decreased fertility, milk yield loss and decreased longevity in the herd are all underlying expenses of lameness, not to mention the labor costs associated with treatment.

Digital dermatitis accounts for about half of all lameness costs. The key to preventing it is early detection and treatment. Burgi recommends checking heifers as they enter the breeding pen at 10 to 12 months of age.

Springing heifers and dry cows should also be assessed, treated and functionally trimmed as necessary three to eight weeks prior to calving. First-calf heifers and cows should also be assessed one or two times during lactation.

Other tips for foot health include:

  • Comfortable freestalls that encourage cows to lie down.
  • Secure footing. Burgi said he prefers grooved concrete. Grooves should be spaced 3 1/4” center on center, ¾” wide and ½” deep with a 90 degree edge.
  • Effective cow cooling during periods of heat stress, so that cows lie down rather than stand and congregate on concrete alleys.
  • Routinely use foot baths. Size foot baths correctly so cows have 3 dips of each hoof or six seconds of contact each time they walk through the baths. Footbaths should be 10 feet to 12 feet long, but only 20” wide. Solution depth should be 3.5 inches. Footbath alleys also should have solid sidewalls because cows will walk through them quickly without stopping.
  • Keep footbaths clean and at proper solution concentrations. Copper sulfate should be at 2.5 percent with a pH between 3.0 and 4.5.

Healthy hooves are good for the animals and their yield. The Lely Walkway offers regular care for hooves. Safe to use: with a simple push of a button, the foot bath fills up with water and a hoof care product. The cows walk through the foot bath, thereby obtaining the efficient hoof care they need. See more information here.

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Precision Feeding with Lely tools

CSO9550_Vector_barn_overhead_Small-1024x681Your ration is precisely calculated with your nutritionist, but how sure are you that your herd gets and eat what they need? Feed ration management is the key to optimizing feed efficiency and profitability.

Lely has improved the management system of its Lely Vector automatic feeding system. The latest version of the Lely T4C management system provides more integrated reports that combine Vector and Astronaut data, which can provide cost of feed per 100lb (or kg) of milk instantly.

The new reports give an overview of the fed ration and the costs for a specific animal group in a specific time frame. Real-time information helps the farmer make fact-based decisions in order to improve feed efficiency. This information can help you see directly the impact of ration changes and have direct insight in what the influence of feeding is on milk production, feed intake, rumination or health.

Accuracy reports for the Lely Vector feed grabber, which loads the mixing and feeding wagon, help to reduce the difference in the calculated ration and the fed ration to a minimum. Minimum feed losses and rest feed have a positive impact on the margin of feed, resulting in a higher profit for the farmer.

The reports can help determine the feeding cost of the components you buy in, the value of your home grown feed, the ratio between the cost of home grown and bought feed and feed efficiency of your milking cows.

With the Lely T4C management system tied to the Vector and Astronaunt, farmers are able to feed according to their cows’ needs, allowing them to excel in milk production. Read more here.

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Left to right – Justin VanderMeulen, Partner and operation manager, Corner’s Pride Farm; Brian Rodenburg, Owner, West Coast Robotics; Jan Rodenburg, Sales representative, West Coast Robotics; Janel Bisschop, Partner Corner’s Pride Farm; Brandon Bisschop, Partner and operation manager, Corner’s Pride Farm; Erik VanDyk, Owner, West Coast Robotics; Yvonne VanderMeulen, Partner, Corner’s Pride Farm; Bernie VanderMeulen, Partner and general manager, Corner’s Pride Farm


Corner’s Pride Farm (CPF) will become the largest Canadian member of the Lely red cow community in the second quarter of 2017. Lely Center West Coast Robotics, together with Lely North America (Lely NA), are proud to be working with Corner’s Pride Farms Ltd. near Rosedale, British Columbia. Lely recognizes dairy XL operations that have eight Lely robots or more by presenting them with a “red” Lely cow to display on their farm to signify their partnership into the red cow community.

Corner’s Pride, which currently milk 1,650 cows at their dairy location, and has 40 employees in four locations, was first established in 1968 as a 30-cow dairy in Sardis, British Columbia. At time of release, the farm is committed to 30 Lely automatic milking systems – the single largest Lely robotic farm in Canada. Recently, Corner’s Pride started building two new barns and plans to transition to using Lely automatic milking systems in those barns by June 2017. Once the two new barns are running, they plan to retrofit all barns to be equipped with Lely robots. Their goal is to have the whole herd transitioned to using Lely robots by December 2017. Corner’s Pride partners include Bernie and Yvonne VanderMeulen, Brandon and Janel Bisschop and Justin VanderMeulen. Bernie VanderMeulen serves as general manager and Brandon Bisschop and Justin VanderMeulen are operation managers

Corner’s Pride, who has been considering adding robotics for some time, examined many dairy robotic competitors before choosing Lely.

“We ultimately went with Lely because of the experience the company has in robotics and the local Lely Center played a large role in our decision,” said Bernie VanderMeulen, general manager at Corner’s Pride Farms Ltd.   “We have been very impressed with Brian and Jan Rodenburg and the whole West Coast Robotics team. Their knowledge and expertise along with the Lely farm management support (FMS) system and lean management information gave us great confidence in our decision. We look forward to building a strong and trusting relationship with them.”

Corner’s Pride partners toured many Lely operations and spoke with owners and staff about the benefits of Lely automated equipment. All of the partners took an active role in the decision process.

“We created a questionnaire when we toured farms and asked many questions about labor, production numbers, herd health and more,” VanderMeulen said. “Overall, we feel that Lely automated equipment will provide our herd with a more relaxed environment, less time on their feet, less cow movement, less time contained in a holding pen, great data and information on cows which will lead to greater milk production. As we toured the robot farms, it seemed a lot quieter and almost like nothing was going on.”

The Fraser Valley labor market has been a challenge for the farm.  Corner’s Pride has been managing shifts throughout their 22-hour work day. They are looking to redirect their time away from recruiting and training in-turn to maximize staff abilities, manage the farm enterprise and optimize the herd.

After meeting with other Lely owners the Corner’s Pride parters said  “we were surprised to learn about their reduction in labor costs. We were impressed with the milking times, accuracy, production numbers and somatic numbers. Lely robots will allow us to milk our cows with less labor, allowing us to deal with cows more, labor management less with increased cow welfare.”

In addition to reducing labor issues, Corner’s Pride wanted local support that provides great service and information.

The partners felt that West Coast Robotics has a great reputation for being committed to robots and finding solutions to problems and dealing with issues quickly. CPF feels they have true partners in this investment.

Learn more about other dairy XL operations and the Lely red cow community at www.lely.com/dairyxl or at www.westcoastrobotics.ca/.

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DairyXL_LogoLely International recognizes Dairy XL operations that have eight Lely robots or more by presenting them with a “RED” Lely cow to display on their farm, signifying their entrance into the Red Cow Community. Now, Lely North America is excited to extend the Red Cow Community to its Dairy XL herds in the United States and Canada.

Dairy XL operations continue to grow in North America. More than 30 herds have chosen Lely automatic milking systems to increase profits by reducing labor and increasing milk quality and production,” said Preston Vincent, Dairy XL development manager, Lely North America. “With help from our Lely Centers, we will reward the commitment of our Dairy XL customers by presenting these dairies with a red Lely cow to display at their farm, signifying their membership within the Red Cow Community.” 

Dairy herds across more than 10 states and three provinces, with at least eight robots in operation, will officially receive a red Lely cow this spring and be presented with a certificate from their Lely Center. For new Dairy XL customers, after start-up has begun with the eight or more robots, the local Lely Center will hold a ceremony to present the red Lely cow—to be displayed at their farm—and the official certificate.

“Lely is proud to be leading the Red Cow Community with large dairies throughout North America,” Vincent said. “As more Dairy XL herds are added, the symbol of the red Lely cow will represent the best way to increase efficiencies, achieve more output per cow and manage risk.”

Lely North America will officially kick off the Red Cow Community during World Ag Expo, Feb. 14-16, 2017, in Tulare, CA.LELY_0985_DairyXLMap_2000x1754

“We invite more Dairy XL operations to inquire about how they can become a member in the Red Cow Community,” Vincent said. 

Click here to see Vincent discuss the Red Cow Community. Learn more about Lely dairy industry innovations on Lely’s website, www.lely.com/us/services/dairy-xl.

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Make Daily Maintenance Your Resolution

duplo_covers_jpg__7360x4912_q70_crop_subsampling-2_upscaleProper daily maintenance routines are a must for robot owners. A new year offers the chance to recommit to better daily routines.

“Take at least 10 minutes a day on your maintenance and the robot will run smoothly,” said Chad Schumacher who operates a dairy using Lely robots in Minnesota. Schumacher discussed the importance of daily maintenance and automated milking with guests of the Lely Journey tour in December.

Every dairy owner using a Lely Astronaut robotic milking system works to achieve the highest performance. One of the most important tasks is to clean your Lely Astronaut daily. The use of good quality water and correct cleaning tools in and around the robot is of great importance. Below are some tips.

Wash and clean

Before replacing or repairing something, first wash the robot and rinse with cold water. In particular, the areas you want to inspect include the STDS, teat cups, cup cords, twin tubes, and 3-D camera (A4). This ensures that you can work more easily and hygienically.

sTDS and 3-D Camera

A clear field of vision is critical for the sTDS and 3-D camera. Keeping these components clean will help reduce connection issues. Use a soft moist towel with a small quantity of lens cleaner liquid (Astri TDS) to clean the sTDS screen. The 3-D camera should be cleaned with a soft moist towel with a small quantity of glass cleaner.

Replace Liners

You are advised to replace silicone liners after 10,000 milkings. Lely T4C gives an alert when it is time to replace these. Just remember to reset T4C after replacing. Changing the liners becomes an easy job when you use the specially designed tool. If you do not have access to this tool, consult your local Lely Center.

Bleed hole

A clean bleed hole is crucial for optimal milking and milk transport to the milk jar. A blocked bleed hole causes reduced milk flow, which results in a slower cup take-off and incorrect milking on one or more quarters. A higher Dead Milk Time (DMT) may even occur, with increased connection attempts and failures as a result. A specially designed bleed-hole needle is delivered with each robot. Lely advises you to clean the bleed holes twice a day.

In addition to this check, please check the twin tubes visually for cracks and/or other damage.

Duplo covers

Duplo covers prevent teat cups from getting tangled and/or cracked, which may cause a critical alarm. Although the duplo covers themselves are made of solid plastic, some maintenance by cleaning is important. Any dirt and/or other contamination build-up in this area are a potential risk for bacteria growth.

You may also use Lely T4C Report 56, ‘Robot performance’, to monitor, for example, DMT/MT differences. Once again, prevention is better than cure.

Consult your Astronaut A4 Operator Manual for a recommended list of cleaning tasks. Here is an example of a daily maintenance chart. See more at www.lely.com

A4 Owners MaintenanceNew

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AvonbankAgSolutionsGrandRiverRoboticsLelyCenterWoodstockProducing high-quality milk requires healthy and comfortable cows, and Lely products are designed with the cow in mind. Do you have questions about Lely automated milking and feeding systems for your dairy operation?

We invite you to attend the Learn with Lely events, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, or Wednesday, February 1, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Waterloo/St. Jacobs, 45 Benjamin Rd., Waterloo, ON. Lunch will be provided each day.

Lely experts will discuss calf barns and automated calf feeders, milking with robots and making the transition to automatic milking and feeding. Dairy producers, who are current Lely product owners, will share their experiences and insights as well.

The events are hosted by Avonbank Ag Solutions, Inc., Grand River Robotics and Lely Center Woodstock.

You can register online here or contact Yvonne Harrison with Grand River Robotics at 226-383-7678, Tonile Klooster at 519-608-2886 or Dave Clipson with Avonbank at 519-225-2507.




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2017 Lely Spring Showcase

02Here it comes, from Lely’s North American Headquarters in Pella, Iowa, it’s the Lely Spring Showcase!

See our announcement on Facebook here.

During the next few months, a number of fabulous prizes could be yours, just by being a fan of Lely. You could win one of six Lely Jackets, one of three Lely Luna cow brushes, and one lucky contestant will take home the amazing Lely Juno 100 automatic feed pusher.

Grand Prize Juno

Pushing feed yourself could be a thing of the past. With the Lely Juno 100 automatic feed pusher, providing fresh feed to cows around the clock has never been easier. The availability of fresh feed results in increased dry matter intake and milk production, which has been found to have a positive impact on the general health of the animal.

In a Lely research study, 100 Juno customers were polled to ask if they considered the Juno to be a farm luxury or a necessary part of their operation, among other questions. Here is what they had to say:

  • The Juno saved an average of 25 minutes of labor per day, 152 hours annually.
  • Pushing feed via tractor or skid loader expended 22.8 times more energy per year than the Juno, which pushed feed three or four times more per day.
  • Labor savings resulted in more than $2,400 (USD) annually.
  • Average milk production increases occurred.
  • Payback time averaged three to four years for producers experiencing labor and fuel savings.
  • Payback time averaged one to two years for producers experiencing labor and fuel savings as well as production increases.

Needless to say, producers further confirmed through the survey that the Juno feed pusher has become a necessity in their operations.

Lely Luna Cow Brush

The Lely Luna cow brush is designed to pamper and care for your cows. Brushing not only improves blood circulation but also cleans dust and other dirt from the skin, reducing itchy skin. Brushing is relaxing for the cows and they will happily be brushed several times a day

Follow this link to enter to win one of these prizes.

From everyone here at Lely North America, Happy New Year and best of luck from Lely in 2017!

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Lely Recognizes Two More Scholarship Winners

This week Lely has been highlighting recipients of the 2016 Future of Dairy Scholarship Program in Canada. Today we recognize Tamara Hamilton and Vicki Brisson who both live near Russell, Ontario and each were awarded a one-year, $1,000 scholarship from Lely.

tamarahamiltonHamilton is studying bio-resource management with a minor in environmental science at the University of Guelph. She has worked extensively in agriculture including on the family dairy operation, Hamildale Farms. In addition, she was active in 4-H along with many other activities and honors.

To qualify, students had to be currently enrolled at an accredited junior college, college, university, or graduate school in a program that can equip them to contribute to the dairy industry. They also needed to be current or previous members of the 4-H and submit an essay response to the question, “How will automated milking and feeding equipment impact the future of the dairy industry?”

In the essay, Hamilton wrote:

What does the future look like for the dairy industry? Some will argue that it is very unclear, and unstable. I believe, however, that the future of this industry is promising, stable, and reliable. As mentioned, the entire agriculture sector is going to face enormous challenges in order to feed the 9.6 billion people projected by 2050. To meet this food production will have to increase by at least 70 percent (Foord and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation, 2016). The only way to meet this is to increase the quality and quantity yield produced by farms. To support a rising population together everything must not just be economically efficient but also environmentally sustainable. Dairy production accounts for just 3 percent of our global footprint and farmers continue to work to minimize this. Automated milking and feeding technology can help allow efficient control of both food and waste. 

vickibrissonBrisson, who is studying animal science at the University of Guelph, also has worked extensively in agriculture including in a veterinary clinic and on dairy operations as well as other jobs. In addition, she was active in 4-H along with many other activities and honors.

Brisson submitted her essay in French and wrote:

L’équipement de traite et d’alimentation automatisée est un parfait exemple d’innovation, qui aura des répercussions positives pour le futur de l’industrie laitière. L’automatisation n’a pas pour but d’éliminer tout contact entre les agriculteurs et leur troupeau, mais agit plutôt à titre d’outil, notamment pour assurer la survie des fermes et d’une industrie unique et passionnante.”

Congratulations to all of the scholarship recipients.


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2016 Scholarship Winners Highlighted

Lely North America recognizes two more recipients of the 2016 Future of Dairy Scholarship Program in Canada. Rachel Boonstoppel of Grunthal, Manitoba, studies animal science technology at Lakeland College, and Ruth Dedman of New Dundee, Ontario, studies animal biology at the University of Guelph.

They are two of five qualified students in Canada who have been awarded a one-year, $1,000 scholarship. To qualify, students had to be currently enrolled at an accredited junior college, college, university, or graduate school in a program that can equip them to contribute to the dairy industry. They also needed to be current or previous members of 4-H and submit an essay response to the question, “How will automated milking and feeding equipment impact the future of the dairy industry?”


photo by Charmaine Wiens Photography

Boonstoppel has worked on several dairy operations in Manitoba and was active in 4-H for many years along with many other activities and honors.

In the essay, Boonstoppel wrote:

Farmers are switching to automated milking and feeding systems because they want to increase the productivity of their cows and farm. Having an automated system allows farmers to be more efficient in the way they use their time. Becoming more efficient has its benefits because it makes one more profitable. Modern farmers are looking for ways to use the available technology on farm to increase profits.

ruthdedmanDedman also has worked extensively in agriculture including on a dairy operation as well as several other jobs. She also was active in 4-H.

In her essay, Dedman wrote:

There are many advantages to automated feeding and milking systems. Robotic milkers allow cattle to be milked several times a day, leading to increased milk production and keeping the cows more comfortable as they no longer have to wait until milking time with an uncomfortably full udder. This system also mimics the natural nursing of a calf more closely than other milking methods. Automated feeding regulates the amount of feed each animal gets much more effectively than feeding by hand could ever accomplish. The monitor systems also allow the farmer to be warned immediately if there is a problem with one of the machines or one of the cows. Problems such as mastitis, low feed intake, or many other health concerns can be identified and addressed much more efficiently than if the farmer relied on observation alone. Finally, robotic barns make larger herds more feasible. Instead of physically being in contact with every single cow in the herd every day during milkings that can take several hours, the farmer can now focus his attention on the cows that need special attention or help.

Congratulations to all of the scholarship recipients.

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Throughout this week Lely North America will highlight Canadian recipients of the 2016 Future of Dairy Scholarship Program. Today we recognize Dennis Catt of St. Thomas, Ontario.

denniscattCatt, who is studying agriculture and business at the University of Guelph, has been awarded a one-year, $1,000 scholarship. He has worked extensively in agriculture and was active in 4-H for many years along with many other activities and honors.

To qualify, students had to be currently enrolled at an accredited junior college, college, university, or graduate school in a program that can equip them to contribute to the dairy industry. They also needed to be current or previous members of the 4-H or FFA and submit an essay response to the question, “How will automated milking and feeding equipment impact the future of the dairy industry?”

In the essay, Catt wrote:

 Automated milking systems are quickly becoming the norm for a new build. They provide the cows with the opportunity to have full freedom and to do what she wants when she wants. This system also greatly increases the number of cows that can be managed by one worker effectively. This happens because the time milking can be used for managing more cows. The robotic milker also is a management system, giving the producer lots of data on his cows. The tags on the cows track milk production, SCC, weight and a lot more. This all helps the producer identify cows in his her that need his attention. It is important for a producer to look at and spend time with his cows.

Congratulations to Catt and look for profiles on more scholarship recipients later this week.

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