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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Better benchmarking for robotic milking farms

Most benchmarking values revolve around grouped variables, such as herd size or geographic region, but a recent study published in the Journal of Dairy Science implemented a new approach to benchmarking called Cluster Analysis. This form of benchmarking is used to automatically generate peer groups of farms for a better comparison, one that can account for several different variables known to affect how farms perform.

Comparing your farm to one from your peer group is the best way to get valuable information, consider your strengths and what you may need to improve upon.Barnview3_touchup

The study used a Cluster Analysis to develop six peer groups in North American Lely robotic milking farms, each with unique characteristics such as production level, robot visit behavior, feed allowance, location, type of facility and when the farm first began robotic milking.

By separating farms into different clusters, characteristics can be defined and customized advice can be given to benefit each farm within its cluster. The clusters also allow for comparisons among peer groups, which the study found to be more accurate than comparing two farms that may only have a few similarities, such as geographic location.

This approach allows producers and their advisors to set more realistic goals.

Types of Clusters Identified in Research

The characteristics of clusters lend to customized advice for each group. For example:

Cluster 1 includes farms with recently installed automatic milking systems that need to identify cows best suited for robotic milking

Cluster 2 includes farms that were low-producing and utilized Jersey herds with forced traffic systems. These farms can consider free-cow traffic and should evaluate their feed allowance and robot settings to maximize production.

Cluster 3 includes farms that have the northern-most, colder location herds that could consider adding separate automated feeding stations outside of the robot.

Cluster 4 includes farms with only one robot per pen and could consider removing individual cows that are not a good fit for robotic milking.

Cluster 5 includes top-producing Midwestern farms that should focus on making small adjustments such as decreasing failures in order to keep improving milk production.

Cluster 6 includes farms in Canada with milk quotas and can decide to optimize the efficiency of milk production with the lower cow numbers.

To review the research abstract, visit the Journal of Dairy Science or read this  Progressive Dairyman article.

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Lely North America kicks off Dairy Month with a new scholarship offer

For nearly 80 years, June Dairy Month has been an annual tradition that celebrates the contributions of the dairy industry and promotes nutrient-rich dairy foods at the start of the summer.

This year, Lely North America is celebrating Dairy Month and the future of this great industry by establishing the new 2016 Future of Dairy Scholarship Program that will be awarded annually. Five qualified students residing in the United States will be awarded a one-year, $1,000 scholarship.

“The future of the dairy industry depends on the development of a solid group of experts entering the industry,” said Peter Langebeeke, President of Lely North America. “The Lely North America Future Dairy Scholarship program provides support to those who will help build the future of the industry.Iowa's Dairy Center - Discovery_Sm1

“June Dairy Month is about recognizing individuals who make this industry strong,” Langebeeke said. “Lely is excited to offer these scholarships to the hard-working students who are the future.”

To apply for the scholarship, students must be at least 18 years old and enrolled at an accredited junior college, college, university, or graduate school, in a program that can equip the student to contribute to the dairy industry.

Students must also be current or previous members of the 4-H or FFA organizations.

Bellana Putz, customer sales support manager for Lely North America, said she was a member of 4H for nine years.

“I feel very strongly that there is no other youth program that offers such a variety of activities to mold and nurture the life skills that create servant-leaders who can build, fix, grow, teach and feed themselves and the world,” she said.

To apply and for a full list of requirements, students should visit complete the application form. Students need to submit an essay response (500-700 words) to the question “How will automated milking and feeding equipment impact the future of the dairy industry?”

The deadline for application is July 1, 2016, at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be notified on or before August 15, 2016, by way of an email or phone call.

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Leedles Receive Lely Center Support Any Time They Call


Jason Leedle of Black Cat Dairy in Lake Geneva, Wis.

Jason Leedle at Black Cat Dairy describes the four years since he and his family transitioned to robotic milking as smooth sailing.

“It’s been great,” Leedle said. “We’ve been really happy with the process and the support we’ve gotten from our Lely Center.”

When Jason and his parents, Tom and Jennifer, made the decision in 2012 to install Lely automated solutions at Black Cat Dairy, located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, their Lely Center was involved from the beginning. The center first helped the family decide on the best barn design for their operation with eight Lely Astronaut A4 automated milking systems, two Discovery barn cleaners and a Juno automatic feed pusher.

Even after the family and cows settled into the new way of life, their Lely Center continued to be a source of advice and guidance. The Farm Management Support team regularly sends information to help the Leedles maximize production, reproduction and overall profitability, while the Technical Service Support specialists standby to help with troubleshooting, repairs and maintenance.

Leedle said, while he was confident his family would receive support, the transition has been better than expected. He points to the fact that he knows someone will answer the phone anytime he calls.

 For all of my questions and concerns, they’ve been right there to help us,” Leedle said. “That’s been really important.”

See Leedle’s Black Cat Dairy here.


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