Innovators in Holland

Samantha Engelhardt, '15; Barb Leipprandt, '14; Jennie Lubbers, '15

The Lely factory was updated and a factory building was opened this past January. It is very modern, yet the dairy factory has trees growing in the center. The natural sunlight creates a good work environment and showed us that they really care about their employees. The dairy factory has about100 employees and the forest factory has about 300 employees. The robotic milkers (Lely Astronaut) take 2.5 days to build and every day 24 boxes are produced. It takes up to 45 hours to test each robotic milker. The milkers and Vector automatic feeders are only produced when ordered, but other equipment are kept in small stock. Everything is assembled by hand and the facility is very clean. It was nice to see how Lely, even being such a huge company, took time to focus on every piece of equipment they made. Knowing you are getting a great product every time is a good feeling since it’s such an important role in our lives as agriculturalists.

The first farm had two milking robots, a Discovery alley cleaner, and the Lely Calm calf feeders. They had 150 milking red and white Holsteins. They also breed Brown Swiss into the herd to improve longevity. An interesting fact is that they go through a private company so sell their milk that 95 percent is turned into powered milk and shipped to East Asia. It was interesting to see how not everyone works through a coop to sell their milk since almost everyone we know in Michigan works with a cooperative.

The second farm had four milking robots, a Juno feed pusher, six cow brushes, calf feeder, two Walkway foot-baths, a Cosmix feeder in the dry cow pens to give special rations to close up cows, and three alley cleaners. The barn was built and all the robots were bought at the same time. He milks 220 cows and has two separate milking groups. His main breeding goal for the farm is to improve milk production. The milk is also sold to a private company. He has a construction business during the day and works on the farm in the mornings and afternoons. Both farms were similar in products they had, but they had very different goals when it came to what they want in a farm. We enjoyed seeing the diversity because it shows that every farmer can be different yet successful. This diversity allows us as a worldwide dairy industry to complement each other.

Following the farm visits we got to finish the day by culturing ourselves with some Dutch pancakes. Eet smakelijk (Eat well)!

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