In this edition we take a closer look at Rolleyview Farms, a VMS facility in Chilliwack, BC, Canada owned by the Tap family. I visited the Taps just prior to start-up to photograph the barn. It was immediately clear that cow comfort, cow flow and ease of work routines were the primary factors playing into every facet of the design.

Click below for an interactive virtual tour of the facility (this will open in a new window)

Rolleyview Farm

Lucky for us, co-owner Kevin Tap has provided a summary highlighting the notable parts of the barn. Thank you Kevin!

“It seems there are pros and cons for every decision when building a barn. From the colour of your robot to the placement of your boot wash. The points and reasons for my design are from the farmer’s point of view.

  • 6 row perimeter feeding barn with free flow cow traffic

    • Less distance cows need to walk to the robot
  • Cross ventilated barn

    • Ceiling at 14ft to limit the amount of air to move
    • 10 fans(five feet wide) to pull air out
  • LED lighting

    • Lighting with white ceiling and walls create a bright environment
  • Robot rooms are plastic forms filled to the top with concrete

    • Won’t dent with a clean look
  • 5 boxstalls and 12 stalls for close-up/pre-fresh

  • Gel mats for stalls

    • Saves sawdust and lessens hock wear
  • Tip Up style stalls, 4ft wide 9ft long

    • Allows stalls to be lifted up to free stuck cows and increase lunge room
  • 4 stalls behind each robot

    • Allows sort cows to rest, eat, drink and be milked.
    • Sort cows being bred, treated, having hooves trimmed and dealing with milking issues.
  • Footbath on the crossovers at the back of the barn

    • Cows hate the footbath, so putting that near the robot will decrease your visits
  • 5 calf suits for feeding calves

    • Feed calves with bottle until moving them to an automated feeder
  • 1 CF1000+ with 2 stations

    • 2 groups to eliminate bullying
    • 15 calves max per station is the magic number
    • Calf room ventilated by a positive air tube with calculated holes
  • 2 Swinging Cow Brushes

  • Manure storage underneath the back of the barn

    • Pit is underneath the back 40ft with a centre wall creating a racetrack for agitation.
    • 150ft wide extending past the width of the barn allowing for agitation of either side if needed.
    • 7ft 8 inches deep due to water table

When designing the barn I tried to think of the easiest way of doing things, because if it’s easy it will get done. For example, skid steer access to the boxstalls, no odd corners or angles creating a simple looking design, an easy way to lock up cows by yourself, water available, electric pressure washers within the robot rooms to keep clean and a small pit beside the hoof chute to jump into to treat cow udders at parlour height. This feature helps us stay away from treating in the robots or being kicked while treating in the headlockers.”

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Jeff is Project Design Manager - Robotics and has been designing robotic barns for DeLaval for the past 4 ½ years. To date, he has planned and designed more than 200 robotic milking and calf barns. While growing up in Northern NY, Jeff was proudly employed by his father's construction company building freestall and calf facilities in addition to conventional parlors. He also worked on several dairies during that time. Currently Jeff resides in Arvada, Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and spends his free time backcountry snowmobiling and skiing with family and friends.

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