The one thing that becomes apparent as you get to know Cindy and Brent Hartman is their desire to constantly learn, make incremental changes. They also have a great sense humour that comes into play at just the right moment as they work side by side in managing the 75 cow herd.
Making the Leap to Milking Robots
The young husband and wife team are understandably enthusiastic about their new 2016 robotic milking barn. Both remark that it is so much easier and more efficient to manage than the traditional facilities they grew up with and the tie stall barn they began their farming career in.
“We must have looked at over a hundred barns in planning what we wanted to do,” Brent states.
Triplekay installed their second robot just 100 days after the first and just finished building three new bunks in May 2018. This involved tearing down the old barn that Cindy chored in with her Mom, Dad, and siblings while growing up.
The results over the past year are inspiring. The herd’s milk production typically runs between 38 to 40 kg with the fat around 4% and protein at 3.3%. They like to measure and be measured so the information from the Lely robotic system is highly valued in daily decision making.
They are very proud of the somatic cell count that averages 89,000 in the new facility versus the 150,000 range in the past. They have treated only 2 cases of mastitis in the past 18 months and recognize the correlation between great udder health and outstanding milk production.
“We have enjoyed positive growth in the dairy industry since making our commitment.” Cindy also emphasizes, “We are working with a young herd with 75% of the cows in their first and second lactation and feel there is room for increased productivity.”
The herd is fed KP corn silage, haylage, high-moisture corn and a small amount of straw, according to TMR recommendations. Shur-Gain’s 19% Pro-Botic pellet is fed in the robot as well as Shur-Gain's 18% ProStart to fresh cows. Triplekay makes use of all that Trouw Nutrition has to offer in the way of service and technology. The ration is formulated by Jaime Carson using Newton® software. This state-of-the-art program is used by Trouw Nutrition globally and balances protein, amino acids, carbohydrate fractions, and trace nutrients and considers rate of passage as well as economics in optimizing cost. Careful attention is given to rumen health in preparing the farm recommendation and customized supplement pellets that are prepared for the PMR part of the diet. Triplekay rations contains some unique Trouw Nutrition proprietary innovations – RM104® and Zenith-C®.
Cindy and Brent are very optimistic about the future of dairy farming. “There will always be roadblocks, threats and challenges to the business,” acknowledge Cindy and Brent. “Some of these will be at farm level but many will be in the global political arena. Nevertheless, we are happy to be doing this; It's our way of life.”