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Wenlay Dairy Farm

The Wenlay property was already set up as an existing dairy farm when they arrived in 1995, so Arie decided to keep the name. The original barn was built in 1983, and the farm sits on 300 acres. The Binnendyks first renovated in 2008 but in 2018 a much larger renovation took place and included the addition of a new milking parlour, which milks just under 300 cows. “Milking took longer in the old barn, so we really wanted to improve that,” explains Bert. “The cows also needed more room, and we wanted to incorporate technology like milk meters and heat detection for increased productivity.”

A GEA Mag 90i Parallel Double 24 parlour installed by Pacific Dairy Centre was another significant upgrade they decided to invest in. “We chose a milking parlour instead of robots as the existing barn was in very good shape but not suitable for robots the way it was laid out,” says Bert. “The parlour was a lot more cost effective, had lower capital costs and required less maintenance. It’s easy enough to expand over the years. The equipment is simple, yet it works well.”

Another component of barn reconstruction was cow comfort, with the construction of a pack built specifically for cows that are close to calving.  A designated area was prioritized as part of the build.

They broke ground on their new barn in November 2018, and are very pleased with the results of the renovation. The brothers' goal for their family farm is to continue towards slow and steady, sustainable growth.

Farm Facts 

  • Wenlay Dairy Farm milk 290 cows in a A GEA Mag 90i Parallel Double 24 parlour. 

  • The herd averages 38 kg/day per cow and 4.5% butterfat.

  • 28 new fans by Precision Farm Supplies make a significant difference by circulating air on hot summer days, helping to keep production in line, and keep cows more comfortable.

  • The Joz Alley Scraper is trouble free, and they’ve added another set because they worked so well in the previous barn.

  • The family farms 300 acres; they grow about 60% corn and 40% grass.


Advantages 

  • The GEA Cow Scout Herd Health with Rumination and Activity system was a key innovation added to the farm. The system captures rumination and feeding times as well as tracks when the cows are in heat.

  • The labour savings are substantial as the overall operation is more efficient.

  • The family, their staff and their herd is enjoying the benefits of more space after the renovation. 

  • The barn is more organized as there are designated sections for chores/storage, so everything is in the right place.

  • The barn has much more fresh air circulating through it and has ample light, making for an improved work environment.


Challenges

  • It took a few more days than expected for the cows to get used to a different milking parlour, but they’ve now fully adjusted.

  • The new floors were a little rough initially, and they had to be broken in.

  • “Building with existing facilities already in place was a challenge, as we needed to work with a pre-existing layout, which was slightly restrictive.,” says Bert. They looked at a couple of dairy farms in Hope, as well as their neighbours and attended farm tours over the years to help the family come up with more creative layout ideas for the farm.


Recommendations

  • When asked what recommendations Bert would provide to new dairy farmers,  he advises them to look around, and ask as many questions as needed. “Read a lot about the industry so you’re aware of current trends, issues of concern and the latest technologies,” Bert advises.

  • Create a team you can count on. “Having a great team around, that you can trust is a key to success, farming is a team effort,” Herman says.

  • Choosing the right builder makes a difference. “For a new build or renovation I would recommend having a good builder who’s experienced, organized and knows what they’re doing,” says Bert. “Ensure that they can effectively project manage; working with an experienced professional is important. That way you don’t need to worry about the construction aspect.”

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