The real facts and experiences of having a robotic farm

Keith Groshek, Agri-Nutrition Consulting customer working with Dr. Anne Proctor, farms with his father and uncles near Amherst Junction, WI.  They have grown the Holstein herd from 120 head in 2012 to 210 cows today (and capacity for 240 when the milking barn is full), thanks to the innovative ideals and advancements they have added to the dairy. In 2014, they built a robot milking barn with 2 pods; 4 robotic milkers.  The Groshek Dairy is currently averaging 90 lbs. of milk per cow and 3.7 % butterfat. As a family man, Keith wanted to have a more flexible schedule while maintaining a high producing herd without depending on hired labor. The thought of robotic milkers came to him in 2010, but he wanted to do things right the first time around, taking his time in educating himself and learning the different types of robotics and facility layouts. Keith spent over 2 years gathering any and all information he could he his hands on. Through his travels of visiting 11 different robot farms, he finalized his plans for his new milking facility. The guided-flow traffic design from DeLaval was the right choice for his vision and style of farming. Keith did consider both types of flow traffic (guided and free flow), but as he saw some of the free-flow systems he noticed a few things that would not be a good fit for his style. On some of the free-flow farms, he would watch a few of the cows go through the milking stall, turn around and go back again. He did not like the idea having the cows circle...

Are you really ready to harvest this fall?

Looking out over the fields you planted this spring is a satisfying experience to see that with great weather and timely rainfall the corn and beans look fantastic. Hay crops were also excellent. It’s time to go through the harvesting equipment, and make sure everything is tuned up and ready to go. Repairs and maintenance will ensure a great harvest season ahead. But wait a second….  Did you take some time to do some planning before the chopper is in the field this year? The harvest equipment is ready, but what about your storage capacity and facilities? Is everything cleaned out well with no piles of spoiled feed laying around to infect the clean new crop? How about the pad or the bunker floor and walls? Are they in good repair so there are no blowouts after filling and packing? Is the pad in good condition and repair so you do not tear it up during feedout? If there are no issues, you’re ready to go! Hold on again…. Did you order your Pro-Store Forage Inoculants from ANC?  You can’t skip out on adding inoculants and suffer dry matter loss. Did the covering plastic and oxygen barrier arrive yet? What is the plan to get that placed on the pile or bunker this year? Being short of help to cover the pile is a nightmare. Do you have a plan drawn up for placing the bags this year? Look the area over before getting started to make the best use of the existing area. Do you need to expand the pad area for the bags, so next spring’s wet, muddy ground will not...

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and what you need to know

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the final changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) which states animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed will require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. As a producer, this means having a written prescription from an in state veterinarian with a client-patient relationship to use specific drugs.  For all VFD drug prescriptions there will be a clear start and expiration date for that drug to be fed to an approximate number of animals. The new regulations will eliminate the use of certain drugs for production purposes such as growth promotion and feed efficiency. Producer’s VFD drug responsibilities: contacting your veterinarian to diagnose and treat your animals following your veterinarian’s recommendations administering the VFD medicated feed to your animals according to the directions on the VFD order maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of 2 years; and provide VFD orders for inspection and copying by FDA upon request provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor if the issuing veterinarian sends the distributor’s copy of the VFD through you, the client Information required to be on a VFD order: veterinarian’s name, address, and telephone number client’s name, business or home address, and telephone number premises at which the animals specified in the VFD are located date of VFD issuance expiration date of the VFD name of the VFD drug(s) species and production class of animals to be fed the VFD feed approximate number of animals to be fed the VFD feed by the expiration date of the VFD indication for which the VFD is issued...

Kevin Buttles Joins ANC Team as Dairy Technical Specialist

Agri-Nutrition Consulting, LLC (ANC) hired Kevin Buttles, M.A.T., P.A.S. as a Dairy Technical Specialist in July 2015. In this position, Kevin will use his observation skills to draw out strengths and opportunities that he sees on-farm and will implement ways to deliver success for the farmer and ANC Consultants. Kevin grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin where judging and exhibiting dairy cattle and participating in dairy management activities and competitions through 4-H, FFA, and WI Junior Dairyman’s Association set the foundation for his career path.  With a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education and Bachelor’s Degrees in Animal Science and Agricultural Business, all from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, Kevin has a very strong technical background as well as a practical approach to identifying problems, presenting solutions, and implementing strategies to help producers reach desired outcomes. Prior to coming to ANC, Kevin was a Dairy Specialist for Land O’Lakes and local cooperatives in Northeast Wisconsin for over 26 years.  He has held multiple sales and tech roles, providing support to other sales professionals in his market.  During his tenure, Kevin held a position as a Dairy Enterprise Consultant, specializing in nutrition and management, business and financial management, and milk quality and milking equipment. This role required a constant search of the barriers that limit production and then providing the appropriate solutions that break down those barriers and improve profitability of the operation. Kevin understands the importance that high forage quality, good cow comfort, and excellent transition cow programs has in maintaining healthy cows and achieving the high production performance we expect from our cows today....