FarmVisit App Allows Producers to Share Information Quickly with Advisors

SmallerMCBURNEY_SARA_1by Dr. Sarah McBurney, Senior Farm Management Support Consultant/Veterinarian for Lely

Our Lely Farm Management Support (FMS) advisors want dairy producers to succeed with their herds and Lely products. The FarmVisit app is a great Lely T4C InHerd tool that allows the FMS team to communicate with producers quickly in order to address any issues.

With the app, dairy producers give their advisor access to see individual farms’ key performance indicators (KPIs). This up-to-date information on factors such as milk production, feed efficiency and reproduction can be used to help the producer achieve the specific individual farm objectives.

Dec30Number4Various graphs show the current situation compared with previous month’s and year’s results. From this information it is clear what the trends are and where results can be improved. The advisor can also store notes in the graphs, making it easier to check if the situation has improved after the given advice.

When supporting and advising producers on herd management, details are very important. Small changes may result in considerable change.

FarmVisit has been very useful in providing real-time insight into the farm performance anytime, anywhere, allowing advisors to contact producers directly using the T4C information or with a call or a dairy visit.

By creating FarmVisit we provide constant access to the latest information on a dairy. Our goal is to establish relationships with our customers so they can be successful and turn to us for quick and accurate advice. Together, we can monitor the performance of the herd and enjoy the success of the operation.

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Tips for creating total mixed rations consistently

Creating total mixed rations (TMR) is the goal of every producer, but making sure the rations are well mixed, consistent and fresh can be a challenging prospect.

Don Martell, a Ruminant Field Technical Specialist with Diamond V, has offered up several tips for creating consistent TMR for your dairy herd: Manage the moisture and nutrient variation in forages, keep a consistent grind on corn and high-moisture corn, use on-farm premixes, monitor the feed bunks for consistent TMR intake, and control the factors affecting TMR mixing.

When auditing operations, Martell says the most common issues found with TMR mixing are worn parts (23.2%), the mix time after the last ingredient is added (13.5%), the quality of the processed hay (10%) and having over- or under-filled mixers (6.2%).

Depending on the type of mixer you are using, over- or under-filling can range drastically. For vertical wagons Martell recommends filling to 75-95% of struck volume. Those using Reel Horizontal Wagons should fill to about 70% of its maximum volume. Martell recommends those using a 4-Auger Wagons to fill to about 75% of its maximum capacity.10-Factors_BlogPost

Minimizing the TMR sorting can also help with creating consistent rations for your herd. There are several things you can do to minimize the sorting required for TMR: Reduce the forage particle size to 2 inches or less, increase the forage quality to improve the palatability for your herd, add 5-10 pounds of water per cow per day to wet the feed ingredients, feed the herd more frequently, and push feeds up more often.

Martell says having a properly set up Lely Vector feeding system and monitoring the TMR mixer is another way to ensure TMR.

The Vector’s kitchen only requires filling every three days and the grabber can be adjusted for precision feeding. The system estimates weight and automatically corrects accordingly, making sure the cows are fed exactly what they need.

To learn more about how the Lely Vector can lower your feed and labor costs, as well as increase your milk production, click here.

Snake River Robotics Introduced as new Lely Center

Lely has a new addition to its North American dealer center network. Snake River Robotics is located in Idaho, and provides knowledgeable guidance during that next step in dairy automation.

Todd Webb, a fourth-generation dairyman, along with his partners which include his brothers Mark Webb, Scott Webb and neighbor Mike Garner, started Snake River Robotics to serve dairy producers in the Magic Valley area of Southcentral Idaho. The Magic Valley area has about 296 dairies that produce 72.8 percent of the state’s total milk.

Together with Lely North America, Webb and his team offer reliability, consistency and efficiency in an industry where skilled labor is becoming less available and more expensive.

“As dairymen, we know the importance of having quality equipment and the need to have technicians who are prompt, accurate and thorough when you need them,” Webb said.

P1040203Webb and his partners operate a dairy operation, a diversified crop farm that raises sugarbeets, corn, wheat, barley and alfalfa; a beef cattle feedlot; and an electric company. The Lely Center will build on the foundation of a small dairy supply company they own and operate with another partner, Jared Simkins.

“Our dairy supply and electric company are a great fit for this Lely Center because we understand how important it is to be on-call 24 hours a day and be available to farmers,” Webb said. “There has been a lot of talk about robotics in dairies in the Magic Valley. Lely products will be a great interest for large and small operations.”

To reach Snake River Robotics, call 208-878-5359 or visit


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Fly Prevention in the Barn

Keep house flies and stable flies under control in dairy buildings with an integrated fly control program. This type of program utilizes a variety of fly control methods based on knowing pest biology and habits, proper sanitation, manure management and timely applications of insecticides.

Nov4Quebec3Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist with the University of Kentucky writes that house fly and stable fly maggots develop in moist, spilled feed, and bedding or organic matter mixed with manure, in and around dairy barns.

He writes that sanitation is the key to any successful fly control program since it removes fly breeding sites. Without proper sanitation, chemical control treatments will be of limited success.

Regular removal of manure and thorough removal of manure from corners, around posts and under feed bunks is necessary to prevent fly breeding.

In addition Townsend offers these suggestions to fly control:

  • Residual fly sprays should be applied to fly resting areas in barns and loafing sheds to control adult flies. Insecticides applied as space sprays, mists or fogs may be used to provide rapid knockdown of adult flies but have no residual activity and will only control flies present at the time of application.Journey2
  • Larvicides can be applied directly to maggot-infested manure as a means of temporarily reducing fly numbers when sanitation and manure management cannot be used. Rabon 50WP or Ravap EC at the rate of 1 gal of finished spray per 100 ft sq of surface. See label for mixing instructions. Treat only “hot spots” containing large numbers of maggots if possible.
  • Fly traps can capture large numbers of house flies, but generally do not reduce numbers significantly. The solution to severe fly problems lies in finding and treating or eliminating breeding sites.

Read more of Townsend’s tips and information here.

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Lely “Did Juno” Winners Awarded

100_4354Duane Alberts, owner of Alberts Bros. Dairy, in Pine Island, Minnesota, is living life Lely with a new Juno automatic feed pusher. Alberts, the U.S. winner of the Lely “Did Juno” contest, received his new Juno from Dairyland Equipment.


Ken Dykstra, of South Rustico Prince Edward Island (PEI), was the Canadian winner of the “Did Juno” contest. Dykstra was presented with a voucher for his free Juno from LBJ Farm Equipment during the Dairy Farmers of Canada Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown, PEI. Congratulations to Duane and Ken. Look for more contests coming from Lely in the future.

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Preventing Heat Stress

The heat and humidity of summer can combine to make a very uncomfortable environment for dairy cows and be a concern for dairy producers.

Heat stress in cattle is brought on by a combination of high temperature and high humidity. The optimal outside temperature for dairy cattle is between 23ºF ( -5º C) and 65ºF (18ºC). With an onset of heat stress, the effects can include:

  • Reduction in dry matter (DM) intake,
  • Reduction in milk yield with lower fat and protein levels
  • Reduction fertility
  • Increased water consumption

Influence of heat stress on the fertility of the cow

To cool down, cows will raise their respiration rate and start panting, which leads to increased salivation. That in turn, reduces buffer capacity and increases the risk of ruminal acidosis. Additionally, cows suffering from heat stress spend two to three hours/day less lying down. This increases the chance of claw disorders. Good claw health is necessary for optimal cow flow to the robot.

Below are a few considerations in reducing heat stress. These measures do not only apply to lactating cows, but to dried-off cows and heifers as well.

  • Water: High-yielding cows may drink up to 50 gallons (200 liters) per day. As rule of thumb, the water required by a cow equals four times her daily milk yield.
  • Housing: Cows need ventilation to cool off. Natural side-ways ventilation in open-sided barns, together with mechanical ventilation from 60ºF (20°C) onwards, is the most effective. Remember to check the louvers as well. Dust can reduce air flow by 30 percent.
  • Feed management: Feeding more often, at cool moments of the day, keeps the ration fresh and tasty as well as stimulating feed intake and preventing fermentation.
  • Pasture: During hot periods, it is advisable to have the cows in pasture only during the night or during the cool parts (evening, early morning) of the day.

For even more details on preventing heat stress click here.

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Consider efficient barn designs for success with robotic milking systems

Robotic milking will work in most barn layouts, but certain design features improve traffic flow, cow comfort, and the overall success of a robotic milking facility.

jRodenburgJack Rodenburg with DairyLogix Consulting in Ontario, Canada, presented, “Barn design for robotic milking,” in a recent Hoard’s Dairyman webinar sponsored by Lely North America.

“Robotic milking can do a tremendous amount to reduce dairy farm labor,” Rodenburg said. “If properly implemented, robots can reduce labor in the barn by as much as 30 to 40 percent.”

In order to make robotic barns successful, owners need to consider these issues with barns designs:

First, provide facilities for efficient separation and handling of individual cows.

_CSO9550_Vector_barn_overhead_Small“Even if farmers aren’t milking any more, they may spend extra time moving cows around if they haven’t thought about an efficient way to handle individual cows,” he said.

Secondly, consider an area for special needs cows, such as fresh cows or lame cows.

“You would like to have those cows in an area of the barn, close to the robots, where they are going to thrive,” Rodenburg said.

Third, sometimes we fail to recognize the importance of behavior and social rank of cows. This can affect how cows move through the system.

Free-Cow Traffic

When building a robot barn, a producer must decide between a free-cow traffic or guided-traffic design. In free-cow traffic barns, cows have access to feeding and resting areas with no restriction.WWednesdayOct7_2

“I design barns for both, but for me, cow comfort is absolutely key,” he said. “For that reason, I have a strong preference for free traffic.”

The key to managing free-cow traffic systems is to have adequate space in front of robots. Rodenburg recommends 20 feet from the milking box to the first free stall. He also recommends locating cow brushes, computer feeders and pasture selection gates far away from this area to spread out barn activity.

Rodenburg identified 12 key barn design considerations including:

  • Free-traffic
  • Open space in front of robots
  • Footbath lane
  • All robots should face the same way
  • Simple routes for fetching
  • Simple routes from group to group
  • Handling chute
  • Gating for one -person handling
  • Flexible separation area
  • Fresh and lame pack
  • Stress free calving line
  • Perimeter feeding

To watch the full robot barn design webinar, visit


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Milky Way Farm is no stranger to merging old with new

milkway2 Nearly three decades ago, Milky Way Farm decided to open their fields up to the public for one month a year to sell pumpkins. Right off the Schuylkill Expressway, families would come to ride the hay wagon, get lost in the maze, walk through the fields and partake in some ice cream. Eventually customers inquired about the origin of the ice cream and the Matthews family decided it was time they made it themselves, launching the Chester Springs Creamery in 2001.

Managed by Carolyn Matthews Eaglehouse and her husband Lou, the creamery operates with 30 Holstein-Friesian milking cows as well as 30 young calves and heifers, which are owned by Milky Way Farm. While most of the milk is sold to Land O’Lakes Cooperative for processing into various dairy products, a portion is retained for bottle sale at the Milky Way Farm and to use for the ice cream popularized during the fall pumpkin picking.

MilkywayBananaTo help with the milking process, the creamery installed a Lely Astronaut Robotic milking system in 2001.

“We were actually one of the first seven farms in the U.S. to get a robot,” Eaglehouse said. “It has changed the course of history on our farm.”

The farm is now on its second Astronaut, which resides in a 200-year-old barn. Eaglehouse said having the robot in the barn is a unique melding of cutting edge technology with traditional structures.

Not only does the Milky Way Farm serve as dairy, but Eaglehouse classifies it as an agricultural education facility.

“We want to educate people as much as we want to make dairy products,” she said. “The robot is helping with that. When we first had the robot installed, we put in a viewing window so visitors could see it in action.”

milkywayEaglehouse views the robot as a symbiotic part of the farm, one that has improved the quality of life for the cows and for the labor on the farm.

“Having the flexibility of the robot to take care of the cows needs allows us to work and manage the other programs on the farm that support the dairy,” she said. “We need the cows and the robot, and the cows and robot need the other programs.

“Honestly, we wouldn’t still be in the dairy industry if we didn’t have the robot,” Eaglehouse said. “It allowed our farm to transition into the next generation and continue our farming traditions.”

Eaglehouse said the farm has seen a production of increase of 10 percent to 15 percent per cow, without a drop in quality to the milk. Not only have they seen an increase in production, but Eaglehouse said the robots have been incredibly reliable, and in the instances when they need support, Lely Center Fisher & Thompson Incorporated have been there to provide support and maintenance.

“They’ve given us a great support network,” she said. “They’ve been great and really responsive to our needs.”

For more information about Milky Way Farm and Chester Springs Creamery, visit There you can find out about the programs they offer, the products they make, and where to purchase your own Chester Springs Creamery ice cream.

You can learn more about Fisher & Thompson Incorporated at

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“Did Juno” winners announced

Congratulations to the latest “Did Juno” contest winners. A Lely Juno 100 feed pusher was awarded to Duane Alberts from Pine Island, Minnesota and one was awarded to Ken Dykstra from South Rustico Prince Edward Island.

Go to the Lely North America Facebook page for the announcements.

Congratulations to both these dairy producers. Look for more contests coming from Lely in the future.

Picture Juno 100 - 02

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Lely products allowing Connecticut farm to thrive

cowpots2MattCowPotsA second- and third-generation farm, Freund’s Farm is always looking for ways to become more efficient while getting the most out of new technologies. The farm, nestled in the hills of Connecticut, reuses nearly everything­­–taking raw manure from the cows to collect methane gas, using the liquid runoff to grow next year’s crops, and harvesting the remaining solid to create the farm’s unique product, CowPots. The environmentally friendly product is made from the nutrient rich manure, which helps plants grow bigger and better with no plastic waste to discard.

Recently the farm, run by the Freund family, implemented several Lely products to help improve the health and well-being of their cows.

With 300 cows, the Connecticut-based dairy installed five Lely Luna brushes, a Lely Juno robotic feed pusher and five Lely Astronaut A4 Robotic Milking Systems.cowpotsLely

“I’d say we are still in the transition phase, but the cow response has been tremendous,” said Amanda Freund, who works with her father, Matt, uncle, Benjamin, and members of the family’s third-generation; Isaac, Rachel, Sarah and Andy.

Amanda said they have already seen an uptick in milk production thanks to the voluntary milking. The robots replaced a system where the cows were milked twice a day, and many are now visiting the machine about three times a day.

Rather than retrofitting an existing barn, the Freunds built a brand new facility, much of which is mostly powered by the nearly 700 solar panels on the barn roof.

Amanda said the angle of the Lely robotic equipment is to equate to more efficient work, more time to spend on other projects and increased production for both cows and people on the farm.

“We are very excited about our Lely products and what they will allow us to do,” Amanda said.

CowPots are sold seasonally at hardware stores and garden centers throughout the nation, or online through retailers such as Tractor Supply Company, Grower’s Solution, The Online Greenhouse and more. For more information about CowPots, visit

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