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'The cows eat more and leave less feed behind'

Mart Doelman, Leidschendam, the Netherlands

Mart Doelman owns a dairy farm in Leidschendam with 100 cows. He started working at the family farm on his 21st birthday. Over 30 years later, as a result of health issues, he saw the need to switch to automation. Now there are two Astronaut A4 milking robots, a Juno feed pusher, a Cosmix concentrate feeder, a Discovery barn cleaner and a Calm automatic calf feeder on the farm.

“I place a lot of importance on the herd. The cows must look healthy. That, and the freedom to be an entrepreneur, doing something different each day and building something up, is what I like about this work”.

Frequent pushing

Since switching to automation, production has already increased to almost 1,000 kg per cow in the first year. Because the feed fence always has fresh feed, the cows eat more and produce more milk as a result. As the feed is always within reach at the feed fence, the cow can eat at any time of the day. Or even at night. That is something Mart benefits from a lot.

“Before, I used to go into the barn three times a day to push the feed in with a shovel. Now the Juno pushes the feed every hour, stimulating the cows to approach the feed gate. The herd eats more and leaves less feed waste behind”.

The combination of automated milking and the Juno makes for more frequent use of the milking robot. Automatic feed pushing therefore fits in nicely with the total package of automated milking. Frequent feed pushing and the uninterrupted availability of feed is a certainty with the Juno.

Dynamic pushing

Because of cows’ eating patterns, some places tend to have more feed than others. The Lely Juno can push feed dynamically, solving the uneven distribution problem. This way feed is pushed efficiently, regardless of whether there is too much or too little feed.

“It was clear that in some places along the feed fence there was more feed being eaten than in others. Dynamic feed pushing means that the Juno adjusts the distance to the feed gate automatically when there is more or less feed somewhere”.

Future prospects

Mart has two sons who are twenty and twenty-three and have their own plans for the future. This gave Mart even more reason to make the move to automation sooner rather than later.

“It is important for them to do what makes them happy and I support them in that. If my sons had shown an interest in taking over the farm, I may have postponed making the move to automation, or I may not even have made it at all. Now I can rest assured that I can carry on until I retire. With this herd I can face the future. The automation on the farm immediately makes for a lighter workload, plus I can do things outside work without needing to ask someone to go and push the feed in for me. Thanks to the Juno, the feed carries on being pushed, day and night”.