For Brian Fiscalini, the journey to award winning cheeses has lasted almost 140 years. His family emigrated from Switzerland in the late 1800s, settling in present day Cambria, California. His family worked at a local dairy until 1912 when his great-grandfather prospected and purchased 160 acres in Modesto, CA, opening a working dairy just two years later in 1914.
From ten cows in 1914 to 2,800 in 2022, Fiscalini and his family have stewarded their dairy through four generations with a focus on care for their cows, deep respect for their land, quality & innovation and, of course, family. Today Fiscalini Farms produces award-winning, old-world style cheeses made by hand, a decision made by Brian’s father John Fiscalini after rediscovering his family’s rich heritage of cheese-making during a trip to Switzerland in 2000. Only two years later in 2002, Fiscalini Farms Bandage Wrapped Cheddar was named “Best Farmhouse Cheese In America”. Today, Laura Fiscalini-Genasci and Brian Fiscalini, oversee the day-to-day operations along with their father. Both Laura and Brian graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo just like their great-grandfather did 100 years ago.
Growing the Herd
A bustling operation that milks 1,500 cows three times a day to produce some of the world’s best cheese doesn’t happen overnight. Construction of their state-of-the-art facility took place in 1992 with multiple waves of expansion, and current capacity of 2,800 head of cattle being reached in 1995. Today, Fiscalini Farmstead is moving ahead with a transition to Lely robotic milking with the intent of providing more comfort and freedom for their cows and well as improving their production metrics.
“For a long time, I have been fascinated with robotic technology and the latest innovations on dairy farms,” says Brian Fiscalini of his reasons for working with Lely.
“We choose Lely products because of their history and experience with robotic milking. I believe that Lely really looks at the cow’s point of view in their design and management programs,”
Making the Transition
To make the transition to robotic milking, Fiscalini Farmstead is partnering with their Lely Center, TDR, Inc. out of Turlock, California.
Lely Robots will soon be a common sight at the farmstead. After working through multiple design iterations, Fiscalini and his team decided to retrofit two freestall barns and build a new milking house, all to accommodate robotic milking processes.
“Currently the milk house is built along with three robot rooms that will each house two robots. The installation process continues, and we expect robots to be milking the first group of cows in February or March of 2023,” says Fiscalini
Anticipation of Lely automation coming online is high at the farmstead.
“I have no doubt in my mind that we will see many benefits including improved cow comfort, better longevity, increased production, improved lifestyle for owners and employees, precision feeding and marketing opportunities for our cheese business,” says Fiscalini about the future.