BRUSSELS — There’s a new king among Ontario dairy farmers.
A few years ago, Roger Haag of Haag Farms at Brussels in Huron County, was milking cows at two different farms. He wanted to move them into one barn and start three-times-a-day milking, but the labour for 3X milking is tough to find. To get around that problem he built a new barn in 2015 that milks 150 cows with three Lely robots.
Two years later, CanWest DHI/Valacta named Haag’s farm as the 2017 top managed herd in Ontario and the top robot herd in all of Canada. This dethroned Larenwood Farms of Oxford County, which was tops across Canada in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Haag never expected his new barn to be that successful that fast.
“When you make that size of an investment with the new barn and robot, you sure hope for it,” joked Haag, 34. “But no, we were really surprised. I knew we wanted to get three times a day milking, and in order to do that, we would have needed quite a bit of extra part-time help. With the robots, the fresh cows are getting milked four, sometimes five times a day.”
Haag also gave credit to the sand bedding.
“We enjoy working with older cows that produce a lot of milk in their lifetime,” he said. “Basically, you look very close at all of the higher-up herds and herds with old cows, I don’t think there’s any debate for what is the best for the cow, and the best for the cell count, and the best for cow comfort.”
Hagg said his parents and brother were instrumental in building up the herd’s genetics, although all three died before the new barn hit its peak. His brother Erwin died of cancer in 2008. His father Viktor died in 2015 and mother Silvia died in 2016.
The herd management score allocates points for performance in different management areas (including milk production, udder health, reproduction, heifer rearing and longevity). About 7,500 herds were scored in 2017.
The top 10 Canadian farms were all from Quebec. Haag Farms was 11th. Seven Ontario farms cracked the top 25, all from Western Ontario.
The top Canadian farm, Ferme Barjo Inc., milks 40 cows three times a day in a tie-stall barn.