Doug Lloyd has gradually taken over the responsibility of a 30 cow tie-stall barn operation from his parents John and Alice and is honored and grateful to be the 4th generation to work the land and progress in managing quality cows. He strategized for a long time on just how Sprucetone Dairy Inc. could make the next leap and position itself strategically to succeed in Ontario’s rapidly changing dairy industry. This resulted in purchasing a second operation 65 km north of the home farm in 2016. Doug has only good things to say about the transition: “Great cows, beautiful new facility, and exemplary herd management by the previous owner.”
The Proof of Performance
The blended production average is 34 kg with the fat running at 4.7% and protein at 3.44%. The herd classification is at 10 Excellent, 44 Very Good and 46 Good Plus. In 2017, the Sprucetone North farm won the DHI Top Management Award in Simcoe County while achieving 2nd in the county for production. The current BCA is 262, 318, 264.
Keys to Success
Doug’s energy, curiosity, and desire to constantly learn have been integral in improving many aspects of managing the two farms. Here are few of the key things that have helped Sprucetone Farms thrive:
Information & Innovation Data Collection
Innovation and information management are two important factors in building momentum for both Sprucetone herds. “DHI is a huge part of daily management. We value the information and take time to ensure we are using it in our decision-making process. The phone app is especially useful when I am on the move so much. At the Sprucetone North farm, AFI software is another information tool that helps track daily operations. Another new innovation is a robotic feed pusher to help optimize dry matter intake.
As important as all this new technology is, old-fashioned people power and the strength of solid long-term relationships are also key to the success of Sprucetone Farms. “People are extremely important," Doug points out, "especially our employees; their skill and passion shine through whether they are caring for the cows or ensuring the utmost quality of our forages."
There are also partnerships that go back decades and have provided steady support and know-how. "Laurie Eckhardt is in his 34th year testing milk at our place. He has been involved since I was ten years old!” Doug states. Moreover, “our 25-year relationship with Dr. Tim Henshaw has been key to our success.”
Shur-Gain Certified Dairy Nutrition Advisor, Kelly Crossfield-Wood from Nieuwland Feed & Supply, also plays a major role in overall herd management. Doug stresses: “Kelly is always proactive and responsive and is great at bringing new ideas to the table to ensure we can continue to make incremental gains.”
The New Lowell farm ration consists of kernel-processed corn silage, haylage, straw, high-moisture corn and a customized supplement manufactured at the Nieuwland’s Listowel mill. Kelly is skilled at formulating the diet with Trouw Nutrition’s Newton® software. Some of the innovations include RM104® and Zenith-C®, as well as Rumensin®, and a by-pass fat product. Evaluating the economics of the ration is something that Doug and Kelly do on a regular basis. Maintaining high-quality forages in cropping, harvesting, and storage is key to keeping the herd on track and controlling overall feed costs. Doug is a firm believer in forage inoculants for both corn silage and haylage.
Looking to the future
Future plans are in motion with the addition of new heifer housing facilities and a calf nursery that will be built before the end of the year. “We have been rewarded by having the perfect environment for the milk cow; heifers and calves are therefore the next logical move,” Doug states. “Having all animals together under one roof is something positive that we are all looking forward to.”
Doug is very optimistic about the future of the Canadian dairy industry. He acknowledges the current turmoil and believes that roadblocks and challenges are part of the game. “The best strategy is to take care of the animals, be on the lookout for ways to improve incrementally, and focus on people and family,” he states. Pursuing side interests beyond farming is crucial to building a great rural life.”