When Jay Binversie was in high school, he had to get up early to do chores on the family farm every morning before class.
Things are different today at Robinway Dairy Farm for Jay’s daughters, however. With 1,100 dairy cows, 1,400 acres of land, and all the modern equipment at his disposal, other than picking stones, there really aren’t any chores for his girls to do. Nineteen full-time employees work eight-hour shifts to get the work done more efficiently.
Jay’s father, Robert, used to spend all summer baling just 200 acres of hay.
“We’d get up at 3 in the morning and go till 8, 9 o’clock at night,” said Jay, talking about his younger years. “We’d go back and forth in chopper wagons. We were so darn tired.”
Now, with faster and more efficient equipment to do the job, Jay can get 500 acres done in a day, which means a better quality of hay, leading to more milk per cow. In Jay’s high school years, for instance, the farm produced 56 pounds of milk per cow per day. Now, each cow supplies 87.
Comfort helps cows produce
Besides having the means to harvest better crops more efficiently, increased milk supply is largely due to cow comfort.
Back in high school, Jay says, barns were low and poorly ventilated. The stalls weren’t as comfortable in those days, and cows were on their feet for the most part.
These days, Jay beds his animals on sand. It is as if his cows are lying on the beach. In addition, the cows are kept cool in hot weather with sprinklers and fans. This keeps them from suffering from heat stress and so increases the amount of milk they produce.
The sand is recycled, too, keeping the cost of bedding his animals minimal compared to the sawdust they used to use. A load of sawdust now costs $2,200, and the farm went through one or two loads a week back then.
Under the present system, as cows kick sand out into the alley, it’s flushed to an area where it is cleaned and recycled. Jay finds himself only having to buy one load of sand a month, resulting in big savings and greater cow comfort at the same time.
Turn to ROBINWAY/page 4