The Krejchik family of Portage, WI has been dairy farming for 40 years, but about five years ago they were at a crossroads. Their old parlor was at the end of its productive life and a steady labor supply was a challenge, especially as they wanted to go back to three times per day milking. Joe, his wife Karen and brother Matt were also taking over management of the farm from their parents.
Ten years earlier the farm had also been at a crossroads, milking 300 cows 3X per day. It proved too much with the need to find labor, and so the cows were sold. That lasted about six months, when everyone realized they missed the cows. Sixty head were brought back onto the farm, gradually building to 121 head now. About three years ago, the family decided to jump full force into robotic technology, aiming to have automation change the way they managed their farm.
They installed two DeLaval VMS™ milking robots, which they now call Jack and Jill, then added CF3100 robotic calf feeding in a beautiful new calf barn. Then they became the first farm
in the United States to use Herd Navigator™ – DeLaval’s automated on-farm laboratory that measures milk, tells farmers the reproductive status of their cows and monitors rumen health and mastitis precursors.
The Krejchiks started out with free cow cow traffic but eventually moved to guided flow, installing what they call their employee to fetch the cows – Sally the sort gate.
They say they chose DeLaval at the start of the process because they believed in the quality of the robotic arm on the VMS™, and because their dealer was committed to understanding robotic dairy management.
Here’s how the Krejchik’s productivity has been affected on the farm since they installed VMS™ milking robots, Herd Navigator™ and robotic calf feeding.
- Milk production up 9% to 80 lbs per cow
- Somatic Cell Count down by about 44%
- Percent pregnant up about 9% to 53-56% of cows
- Pregnancy rate up to 25%
- Calf daily rate of gain up to 2.5 lbs per calf per day
Here’s what the Krejchiks have to say about their DeLaval technology choices
ON VMS™ MILKING ROBOTS:
“When my husband was young and had 300 head of cattle they had lots of hired help. It’s a hard thing to do to get people to come in and show up to work. You have to make sure they do the work the way that it’s supposed to be done. We decided that automatic milking and calf feeding was our best option, and I think that it has worked out very well for us. We’re enjoying it, the cows are doing well and the calves look fabulous. So we are happy.”
— Karen Krejchik
ON HERD NAVIGATOR™:
“We had an opportunity with Herd Navigator, and it is looking like it’s really working out. Sampling is working really well, and we are learning how to use the data more and more. With Herd Navigator, the vet ultrasounds used to be done at 30 days, now we skip that step and we’re just checking cows at 80-90 days to make sure they are still pregnant. Took us a bit of time to trust the technology but the cows and everything look good. The vet is using the Herd Navigator for more of the problem cows to look at them harder instead of pregnancy checking cows. He’s very happy with how the technology has turned out, and so are we.”
— Joe Krejchik
ON THE INTEGRATION OF DATA FROM VMS™ AND HERD NAVIGATOR™:
“With the VMS we can track our milk yields. We have never had anything for tracking milk yields per milking, so that was a step forward for us. MDI is a measure of the quality, and with the Herd Navigator you go one step farther to catch cows with mastitis sooner rather than later and get them treated and checked out before they have a problem. That’s the main way we are using the technology. With breeding we can use all the functions of the robot and the Herd Navigator to get the cows bred as timely as we can.”
— Joe Krejchik
Results will vary from dairy to dairy. The results described in this testimonial have not independently been verified, and DeLaval does not claim the results described in this testimonial are typical. Nothing herein shall constitute a warranty or guarantee of performance. Successful implementation and use of VMS™ depends on a variety of factors, including good dairy herd management practices.