By Connor Lynch
MITCHELL — A Western Ontario dairy farm has the third best-managed herd in Canada.
The Tschudi family, of Smilebrook Farms in Perth County, was ranked third best by Lactanet (formerly CanWest DHI).
The best herd was from Quebec. The second best was Heidi Farms in Eastern Ontario.
The Tschudis arrived in Ontario from Switzerland in 1992. At the time, Thomas Tschudi’s parents were running the farm, but he took over with his wife Ingrid in 2013.
Starting from 35 cows in a freestall barn with double-5 Herringbone parlour, the Tschudis gradually grew their herd. By the time Thomas and Ingrid took over, they were up to about 100 head. “We just slowly expanded a little bit ever year. We bought more cows, then more land, then more cows, then more land, and so on.”
As the herd grew, it was getting to be a lot of work to keep up with by themselves, and they didn’t much relish the thought of hiring help. So they retrofitted the barn in 2016 and put in two Lely milking robots.
The Tschudis have found success with a focus on consistency, for one thing. They’ve also made investments in cow comfort, including foam mattresses (they’re softer than rubber mattresses) and a sprinkler system. The barn uses natural ventilation with curtains and chimneys, “a proven system,” Tschudi said.
Their breeding strategy focuses on medium-sized cows, with good feet and legs and good teat placement.
Bigger is better for many producers, but not in a freestall environment, Tschudi said.
“Medium-sized cows are better. Big cows are too clumsy.”
WESTERN ONTARIO: Perth County dairy farmer has Canada’s third-highest herd management score
By Connor Lynch