Impressive results through efficiency and cow comfort
For three years now, sisters Gonnie and Eelkje Kingma have been in charge of the daily management of a 90-head herd of dairy cows. Many changes have taken place over the past three years. Taking cow comfort as the leading principle, they have implemented many changes in the existing barns in the Frisian village of Hantumeruitburen. The renovation and their commitment have resulted in a considerable increase in production to 40 kg of milk per cow per day.
Gonnie and Eelkje are experienced sheep farmers and not afraid of a challenge. With a true entrepreneurial spirit - and an ethos of hard work- they seized the opportunity three years ago to take over a dairy farm. And with success… The sisters are now completely at home dealing with the herd and have been booking impressive results!
A light, airy and spacious modern barn
As soon as they bought the farm, they started a radical renovation of the existing cubicle barn. “We have replaced the roof, installed a skylight and fitted the side walls with ‘curtains’ to introduce more air into the building," says Eelkje. “We have also created more water points in the barn and ensured good ventilation." These facilities mean the herd on the farm is not affected by the heat and production is more likely to rise rather than fall on hot days, explains Eelkje. The renovation project has transformed the old building into a light, airy and spacious modern barn.
“The cows love their comfy matrasses"
As well as renovating the actual barn, the cubicles have also been given an upgrade. In June this year, new cow matrasses and cubicles were installed. The R-boxes with deep litter bedding have made way for Wisconsin cubicles with Dutch Mountain cow matrasses. Replacing the system has made the cubicles roomier, up to 1.20 metres per cubicle where possible.
The cows have been enjoying the Dutch Mountain cow mattresses for several months now and are content with the change. “The cows love their comfy matrasses," says a satisfied Eelkje. The mattresses have a thickness of 14 cm at the front that slopes to 10 cm at the back. “We previously had a deep litter system with chopped straw - it was very labour intensive. To spread the bedding, we used one bag per three cubicles. That used up a lot of bags on a daily basis. Now we use about six bags of litter that last a week and a half to two weeks. This saves us a lot of litter costs and labour. We now spend much less time on spreading the bedding in the cubicles."
'We have a sharp eye'
The finetuned management practice of the Kingma sisters is showing impressive results. The rolling annual production average has grown from a little above 9000 litres at the start, three years ago, to a staggering 12,783 kg per cow per year. So what is their secret? “We have a sharp eye," says Eelkje with a passion.
Gonnie and Eelkje Kingma run a dairy farm in the Frisian village of Hantumeruitburen. Their herd of just over 90 cows are milked by two milking robots. The rolling annual production average is 12,783 kg per cow per year with 3.88% fat and 3.52% protein.