Tim Kerfeld farms alongside his wife, with help from his five kids in Sterns County, Central Minnesota. The farm which is just shy of 500-acres is home to 230 milking cows and 250 young stock.
For twenty-four years, Tim milked 180 cows in a four-row free stall barn with a double A parlor. A couple of years ago, he decided to make the change to Lely’s robotics as a way to provide a little more income along with getting his son involved on the farm.
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In addition to changing to robotics, the Kerfeld’s decided to add on four rows of head-to-head free stalls. Originally, all the stalls in the barn were steel with waterbeds and over the years, the waterbeds were causing issues such as being difficult to clean. As well as that, waterbeds provide little or no cushioning as the water is displaced away from the impact zone and the cows falls onto the concrete. Due to these reasons, they decided to look elsewhere for a more reliable mattress.
The ease of cleaning them was very important to the Kerfeld’s. The waterbeds are made from a woven canvas material and are constantly moving making it quite difficult to clean. Tim chose to install the EASYFIX Jupiter F mattress as it is a smooth, sloped, interlocking mattress making it a lot easier to sweep the stalls, while also speeding up the process.
“I think it’s just the flexibility of the dream stall that makes it attractive to us. The nice open design to it, it’s open in the front, open on the sides and the cows can lay with their head in any direction they want. They can get up without worrying about a neck rail above them that’s going to knock them in the front shoulders just to get up- the flexible neck rail bends up if they do hit it” says Tim. “And it’s completely adjustable for the neck rail- you can move that as much as you want to accommodate the size of our cows.”
The EASYFIX free stalls and mattresses have very similar dimensions to the steel stalls and waterbeds that are already in the barn, however, the difference is highly visible. All of the EASYFIX Dream stalls are fully occupied while only a couple of cows lie in the steel free stalls. The cows are also noticeably more relaxed. They get up very easily, have good footing on the Jupiter F mattress and if they do hit the neck rail when standing up, it flexes out of the way, preventing injuries.
You can tell the difference just by walking into the barn and glancing over the cows.
“When they’re laying on a stall mattress that’s comfortable to them and they’re not going to get injured or feel injured as they get up, it’s pretty natural where they’re going to go”.
Before installing the EASYFIX Dream free stall and Jupiter F mattresses, Tim didn’t think there was an issue with the steel stalls that they have in the original part of the barn. However, it is now evident that the cows most definitely prefer the flexible EASYFIX stalls and are more comfortable on the Jupiter F mattress.
Two months in from changing to the robotic system and installing EASYFIX products, the Kerfelds have gain 18 pounds of milk. In the past, they had a rolling herd average of 25,000 and 4.2 butterfat and now the records are indicating that they are pushing 28,000 with a 4.2 butterfat test. “Happy cows are productive cows, there’s no doubt about that”, says Tim.
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