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Hendriks Dairies Ltd. finds a good fit with Jerseys

Alice Guthrie for Progressive Dairyman Published on 12 June 2018
Tyler Hendriks

Hendriks Dairies Ltd. is a family-run operation in Huron County, near Brucefield, Ontario. Tyler Hendriks is the third generation of his family to operate a dairy farm.

Hendriks completed the two-year agriculture diploma program at Ontario Agricultural College, Ridgetown campus, and has furthered his education with webinars and courses. He grew up with the farm and has developed a passion for working with livestock. This, and his desire to be his own boss, led to his decision to make dairying his life.

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Although Hendriks and his dad, Henry, share ownership, Hendriks is working toward becoming the main operator. They both work with the farm’s veterinarian for herd management. Other family members also contribute; his uncle, Gerard, helps with fieldwork, and Hendriks’ sisters, Brittney and Kylie, share milking duties with Hendriks and his new wife, Emily. They also have a young hired man, Connor Ven Osch, who helps with milking duties.

Tyler and Emily Hendriks were married shortly after moving into their new facilityHendriks started his business four years ago, purchasing 45 Holstein cows and quota from his uncle, and renting a barn and land. This barn had tiestalls and a pipeline. Within the year, he switched to Jerseys, finding them a better fit in the old stalls. He also says Jerseys provide greater feed efficiency and possess better health traits.

He was able to take advantage of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) parent-to-child quota top-up program, which allowed his father to transfer half of his quota. He also obtained half of his father’s cows and land base; his father sold the remainder of the herd.

With more cows, the tiestall barn was no longer adequate, so Hendriks moved his herd to his father’s farm. This was also a temporary solution, as a new facility was being built across the road.

A former pig barn was converted to quarters for calves and heifers, and a new freestall barn was built nearby. This features tunnel ventilation, sand bedding and alley scrapers. There is a foot-trimming stall to allow Hendriks to take care of sore feet, but a professional trimmer comes in routinely for dry cows.

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Hendriks installed a double-eight parallel parlour with used stabling that had been originally designed for Holsteins. Hendriks made the deck shorter and lowered the butt pan to fit the smaller Jerseys. The parlour is equipped with GEA-IQ milkers with automated takeoffs. The new facility was opened in March 2017.

A switch to 3X milking was made to maximize production. “Our current production for our Jersey herd is 1.45 BF kilograms on 3X milking,” Hendriks states. Plus, it resulted in people being present more often to observe the herd.

“The new facility is so efficient and easy to use,” he explains, noting it only takes an hour and 15 minutes to complete each milking.

Hendriks outgrew the tiestall facility and built a new freestall barn.

The herd, all registered Jerseys, numbers 110 milking cows, with a similar number of dry cows and heifers. Hendriks breeds the top half to three-quarters of the herd to Jersey bulls and uses Angus on the bottom quarter. He explains that Angus-cross calves bring a far better price as drop calves than pure Jerseys do. This is a quiet and friendly herd, and he says Jerseys are often very friendly animals.

He uses 90 percent sexed semen from top bulls of the breed and says he gets a good conception rate and a 33 percent pregnancy rate.

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His veterinarian, who is also his nutritionist, visits every second week for a herd health consultation.

The Hendrikses work about 250 acres, growing Roundup Ready alfalfa, corn and soybeans. All the alfalfa is utilized for the herd, as well as part of the corn. The remainder of the corn and the soybeans are cash crops. Dairy concentrate is purchased.

Hendriks’ goals include expanding to about 200 milking cows, which he says is enough to handle by himself as main herdsman. He hopes to accomplish this within 10 years – or as quota becomes available. Another goal is “to be debt-free someday.”

See more of the dairy in this slideshow.

slideshow preview

Hendriks is active with the Huron Milk Committee, performing various duties. He has a strong interest in genetics and the major correlation between high genetics and profitability. The farm doesn’t allow a lot of extra activities, but he and Emily do CrossFit together, where she is a coach. Emily also works off the farm as an agricultural analyst for TD Bank.

Last year held a lot of excitement for Hendriks – the new facility opened in March, the farm hosted the popular “Breakfast on the Farm” with the Bayfield Agricultural Society in July and, in August, he and Emily married.

Their wedding photos were rather unique, as some were taken in the barn and milking parlour, wearing their wedding attire as they milked cows. This year more excitement is in store, as the couple are expecting their first child in August.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Tyler Hendriks started his own dairy operation four years ago and quickly found a preference for Jerseys. Photo by Alice Guthrie.

PHOTO 2: Tyler and Emily Hendriks were married shortly after moving into their new facility and opted to have some pictures taken while milking cows. Courtesy photo.

PHOTO 3: After combining his herd with half of his father’s herd, Hendriks outgrew the tiestall facility and built a new freestall barn. His goal is to grow the herd of 110 cows up to 200 as quota availability allows. Photo by Alice Guthrie.

Alice Guthrie is a freelance writer from Hagersville, Ontario.

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