Old dairy gets new look

The below is an excerpt from a recent feature story on Kyle and Kurt Johnson on FarmWeekNow.com.

Brothers Kyle and Kurt Johnson about six years ago jumped at the chance to take over the Bound County dairy operation of their grandfather, Bill Schrage.

But it didn’t take long for the brothers, who currently are in their late 20s, to encounter one of the biggest business decisions of their young careers.

“We knew we needed to update, “Kyle said. “Our parlor (which was built in 1957 and could handle only 16 cows at the time) was pretty outdated.”

The limitations of the facility meant the Johnsons of Greenville had to work long days (typically from about 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to milk their 80-cow herd. The situation also impeded their goal of expanding the operation.

“We had to do something,” Kurt said.

The Johnsons initially considered investing in a new milking parlor and hiring outside labor until they toured dairies in Wisconsin and Minnesota that used robotic milking systems.

“We were amazed,” Kyle said. “We liked what we saw.”

The Johnsons subsequently installed a Lely Astronaut A3 robotic milking machine on their farm in December converted their operation to a fully automated system.

There are two milking devices on the machine, each is open 24 hours a day except for two 15-minute wash cycles, and each can service 60 cows per day.

“We’ve increased production by about 10 to 12 pounds (per cow) per day,” Kyle said. “That easily making the payments to the bank” to cover the cost of the robotic system.”

Click here to read the full article.

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