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PJV Farms to showcase comfort stalls and manure system

Alice Guthrie Published on 02 January 2014
Vink family freestall barn

PJV Farms, near Chilliwack, British Columbia, is a family operation begun in 1963 by current operator Peter Vink’s father.

The business has grown over the years, being added to in 1975 and again in 2002. That expansion saw a new 112-by-192-foot dairy barn take the place of older existing structures and the addition of a new double-six parallel milking parlour, which can be expanded to a double-10.

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The floor of the parlour holding area is somewhat sloped to allow gravity to assist in clearing waste.

The business now also includes Peter’s two sons, Andrew and David. The men share the workload.

Peter fills in for time off for the boys and does a lot of the fieldwork, including sharecropping with a neighbour. He no longer has the responsibility of milking the cows. Andrew and David take care of herd management, with David responsible for most breeding, as well as hoof care.

Andrew does the morning milking; David takes the evening shift. All three men share management decisions, meeting weekly over breakfast to discuss the business.

Peter’s wife, Janet, and Andrew’s wife, Jessica, both work off-farm, and are therefore not able to be highly involved in day-to-day operation. There are no outside employees.

The year 2013 saw another major expansion project with a new 150-stall, 118-by-188-foot dairy barn being built. This is situated parallel to the 2002 barn, with the milking parlour at the front of the new one.

Deep bedded stalls

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The project began in March, and the cows moved in by August. The new barn features all dairy comfort stalls, deep-bedded with 4 inches of sawdust over rubber matting. “We wanted a deep-bedded stall,” Peter states.

The family looked extensively at sand as bedding, but as their existing facilities were set up for sawdust and sand would require a new management plan, they decided to keep all stock on sawdust.

The finish on the floor of the new barn is a tine finish – this works really well to give cows good traction – they have less problems with cows slipping now than with the older barn.

The 2002 barn was renovated to include heifer stalls, dry cow accommodation and boxes for calving or special-needs cows.

One change in management with the new barn is that their 2-year-old cows are now grouped separately from the mature cows. “We have already noticed increased production in 2-year-olds. There is less stress on that group, and they are not as nervous. It worked out really well,” Peter states.

The Vinks use a TMR feed ration, delivered by tractor and wagon to the feed alleys. The mature cows and 2-year-olds each have their own mix. They use corn and grass silage, and two grain sources in their rations.

In total, the Vinks work about 140 acres, most of it dedicated to growing forage crops. They also use 20 acres as pasture for dry cows. They purchase the grain they use as well as some low-potassium alfalfa for their baby calves and close-up dry cows.

The herd consists of 230 head, which includes a little more than 100 milking cows, along with dry cows and youngstock. The cows are registered Holsteins and are enrolled in the DHI program and type-classified. “We had our first EX last year,” Peter grins.

They have sold replacement heifers in the past, but now the farm is in growth mode with a long-term plan to fill the barn. In order to do so, the Vinks are purchasing quota as it becomes available.

Manure management is a focus
The Vinks have a good system for managing the manure the herd produces. Both barns have manure channels under the floor.

The new barn has two channels, which run the length of the barn and are 10 feet deep. One of these channels extends 12 feet outside of the barn for easier access to the pump and agitator, and this part is also 12 feet deep to facilitate a more thorough pumping out when required.

Waste is scraped from the barn alleys into a 36-inch pipe, called a flush flume, and then transferred to a reception pit beside the long channels. Here it can be agitated or pumped into the channels through a 24-inch gate valve, which can be closed if desired.

pump that moves manure

This system is powered by a 40-hp pump with variable speed drive. It uses a lower speed for flushing the flumes and higher for pumping.

Three valves control manure flow as desired. An 8-inch transfer line sends manure from the long channels to a storage facility far out in a field.

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This is an 18-foot deep, 75-foot diameter concrete pit, situated 1,600 feet from the barns. The Vinks have nearly 950,000 gallons of storage. This translates to two to three months’ storage under the barn with an additional three to four months’ storage in the pit.

The pump is also connected to a fill pipe used for filling the manure spreader. This is operated by a remote switch which closes other valves and opens the fill pipe.

Outside activities
The men are busy with their business, but all three find time to play hockey. Peter ran a half-marathon in Victoria in 2013 but states his best free time is spent with family. Andrew is an executive with the Mainland Young Milk Producers, and David enjoys playing golf.

PJV Farms is part of the upcoming B.C. Dairy Expo Farm Tours, held later in January. The dealerships that put their new facility together have encouraged their participation. Peter says he is not sure how many people to expect, but in all likelihood there will be many interested in viewing this operation.  PD

Alice Guthrie is a freelance writer from Hagersville, Ontario.

PHOTOS
TOP: This past year, the Vink family added a new freestall barn. It runs parallel to the existing freestall barn built in 2002, which has now been converted for heifers, dry cows, maternity pens and a special-needs area.

MIDDLE: Deep-bedded stalls with 4 inches of sawdust over rubber matting are thoroughly enjoyed by cows in the new barn.

BOTTOM: David Vink stands beside a pump that moves manure from the barns and out to storage. Photos courtesy of PJV Farms.

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