September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"It was time," Matt said.
In the beginning of September, the Fendrys moved their herd to their new facility - a double-8 parallel parlor and a 120-stall sand bedded freestall barn to hold their 118 cows - on their certified organic Eau Claire County farm near Strum, Wis.
"It's working out really well for us," Matt said.
Previously, the Fendrys milked their cows in a single-8 parlor on the farm they bought in 2009.
Their new DeLaval parlor has in floor heat with 28-inch wide stalls when the cows turn in. Their old parlor had 27 inch wide stalls.
"The cows are getting bigger," Matt said.
The parlor also has a low-line instead of a high pipeline like they were used to. Although they could have put a computer system into the parlor, the Fendrys decided to opt out at this time.
"It's a basic parlor, but it's upgradeable. We just wanted to get a good base started for our parlor," Matt said.
During first two milkings, the cows were adjusting to their new space; however, it didn't take them long to get into the routine since the parlor was very similar to their previous one.
The housing facility was the biggest change.
"They're a lot more comfortable now," Matt said.
Part of this reason is because the freestalls are 10 inches bigger than they used to be. Their other facility had 38-inch stanchions that were converted into freestalls. Now, the stalls are 48 inches wide.
Inside the barn, the Fendrys installed four 72-inch cyclone fans that hang at a 30 degree angle above the freestalls. The Fendrys barn and herd are a part of research for these new fans, which use a fog system rather than mist to cool the air. On one end of the barn, there are six more 72-inch fans.
"The barn is a hybrid between tunnel and cyclone ventilation," Matt said. The fans should keep a consistent wind speed through the barn between 7 and 8 miles per hour.
"It will be a slow circulation of air with the ventilation coming from one end," Matt said. "The cows will be comfortable."
Although they haven't been able to use the fog system yet they are excited to try it out next summer. Their goal is to be able to drop the temperature nearly 20 degrees on hot days.
During the winter, the fans will be turned on to a lower variable speed and the peak of the barn will be closed. This will pull the warm air down to the cow level.
"This should provide drier and warmer air in the winter rather than colder, damper air," Matt said.
The Fendrys also installed induction lighting, which provides full spectrum light. When they moved into their new barn, the light bill dropped.
"They're pretty bright and they're extremely efficient," Matt said.
The new lights were put in for the long-day lighting, which the Fendrys hope will increase production and overall cow comfort. Currently, the herd is averaging about 19,000 pounds; however, usually the rolling herd average is around 21,000. The past two years of drought have made for lower quality feed than in the past.
The four-row 98-by 175-foot barn has two pens with freestalls that face head-to-head for better lunge room. One end of the barn has room for a pre and post fresh group of cows and another pen for special needs cows. Since the facility was built in the middle of one of the Fendrys' pastures, cows can access the pasture from both ends of the barn during grazing months.
Starwood trusses allow for an open barn and a 63-foot free span.
"I like not having posts in the feed alley," Matt said.
For manure management, the Fendry's have a Jamesway 24- by 98-feet cross channel scraper. A skidloader with a tire scraper is used to first move the manure to one of the barns. It is pushed into the channel, which cycles on its own every 12 hours. From the channel it is scraped into a one-day storage pit before being pumped into the seven-month concrete slope sided pit.
The best part about the new facility so far is the extra cow comfort, Matt said. It has also cut down on time. Before, it took three hours to milk. Now all the chores take three hours with milking time cut in half.
The Fendrys wanted a new milking system because the old facility was starting to wear out.
"We needed to be more efficient," Matt said. "We were slowly expanding and we were happy at 64 cows, but over time we needed to decide how to expand and bring in more hired help."
Two years ago, Matt and Beka started looking into robots; however, one look at the price tag and the robots were crossed off the list of options.
"We were on a tight budget," Matt said. "Two bad years with drought meant we didn't have as much in our feed supply and feed prices were high. We had to be realistic."
Their current parlor seemed like a much better fit and a facility they knew they could manage. This spring, they bought 30 heifers to prepare for the new building. Helping them transition into the barn have been herdsman, Dominick Gentry, along with two other employees.
Now that they've been in the new barn and parlor for three months, they're enjoying their time dairying even more.
"I like having a family business. We're first-generation dairy farmers," Beka said. "It's great to see the hours you put in pay off in the end."
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