Thirteen dairy farms from Canada and the U.S. were recognized for their excellent milk production utilizing robotic milkers through the 2018 Robotics World Series hosted by DeLaval. All of the farms utilize the Voluntary Milking System VMS and were honored at the VMS PRO North America awards ceremony in Madison, Wis., June 27-28, for their accomplishments.
“These dairy men and women certainly hit home run after home run,” says Francisco Rodriguez, DeLaval Integrated Robotics Manager, North America. “Not only were their production levels high, but they kept their somatic cell counts low and pregnancy rates favorable.”
Top farms were identified based on pounds or kilograms of energy corrected milk (ECM), taking into account both fat and protein levels produced. Dairies also were selected by region of the country where there are other farms using DeLaval VMS robots.
The top-performing robotic dairy producers from the U.S. were:
- Reidstra Dairy Ltd., Mendon, Michigan
- Bouma Farms, Lynden, Washington
- Feltz Family Farms, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
- Great Brook Farm, Carlisle, Massachusetts
- Malvern Hills, Glasgow, Kentucky
The top-performing robotic dairy producers from Canada were:
- Nifera Farms, Lethbridge, Alberta
- Willswikk Holsteins, Cobble Hill, British Columbia
- Ferme JMJ, St-Anges, Quebec
- Holmestead Dairy, Anola, Manitoba
- Westar Holsteins, Chilliwack, British Columbia
- Gorweir Farms, Guelph, Ontario
- Ferme Acaduc, Ste-Perpétue, Quebec
- Kipawo Farm, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia
The overall top DeLaval VMS farm for 2018 was Holmestead Dairy in Manitoba, Canada. The farm milks 80 cows in two VMS units and is owned by Russ and Crystal Holme. The farm has been run by Russ, a third generation dairy farmer, since 2013. He credits the farm’s success to the robotic milkers and support from his dealer.
The first robot was installed in 2015 and a second was added in 2017. By the fall of 2018 the farm will be up to 100 cows. Since installing robots Holmestead Dairy has increased production 10-15% while averaging 3.3 milkings per day. To win the contest the farm achieved an average 123.5 lb. of milk per cow per day on ECM.
In addition to honoring the top North American dairies DeLaval also presented awards for milestones achieved within robotic milking.
The Pioneer Award was presented to Mason Dixon Farms near Gettysburg, Penn., the first large dairy in North America to utilize DeLaval robotics. The farm paved the way for large dairies to embark in automating their farms when 20 robotic units were installed in 2011 at Mason Dixon Farms.
The Legacy Award was presented to Ferme Carmel of Ange-Gardien de Rouville, Quebec. The Canadian farm is the first North American dairy to near one million milkings on their original VMS unit. The Carmel family first started using the robotic milker in 2001. The farm should achieve one million milkings in the robot by this fall.
Listen to some of the top robotic dairy producers talk about what makes them successful: