Mayer Area Dairy Early Adopter of TechnologyWhen Eric and his parents, Scott and Yvonne, formed a partnership in 2006 that created Hoese Dairy, Inc., the farm had already been in the family for over 100 years.
“It was started by an uncle of my grandpa,” says Scott. “That was so far back, we don’t even know his name.”
Scott and Yvonne bought the farm from Scott’s parents, James and Arleen, in 1991. By that time, Scott had worked with and for his dad for 16 years, and the two already had a partnership on the cows. In 1991, the Hoese family milked 62 cows in a tie-stall barn and finished out their Holstein steers.
Eric graduated from Ridgewater College with a degree in dairy management in 2003. When Eric and his parents incorporated in 2006, they immediately built a compost barn and a step-up parlor. They increased their milking herd to 130+.
“We could milk more cows with the same amount of labor and time, and we could feed faster with a drive-through TMR lane,” says Eric, who adds that the new barn and parlor helped support the two families that now relied on the dairy.
The compost barn was unique at the time it was built. The Hoeses were moving lactation cows out of a broken-down tie-stall barn. The compost barn helped make their lactation cows more comfortable. Today, the compost is wood shavings and is turned twice daily for increased air flow to help compost the solids and moisture.
What’s new these days is the Lely Vector feed mixer/pusher that the Hoese family installed a couple months ago.
“We made this investment to reduce our labor and feed expense because it manages the bunk better,” says Eric. “We are not over- or under-feeding.”
Eric notes that Hoese Dairy has used a Lely Juno feed pusher with its TMR for the last couple years. “We had it programed to push the feed to the cows 20 times a day.”
By comparison, the Vector will feed 15 times a day, but it will push in every hour if it is not mixing. It waits an hour and then goes back to scan the feed height. If it’s below seven inches, it starts mixing again.
Animal nutritionist Mike Foust has been advising Hoese Dairy since 1986. The Hoeses followed Mike when he joined Munson Lakes Nutrition (MLN) in 2006.
“Mike is out weekly checking moisture levels on our feed and re-doing the rations so they stay current with the moisture and forage results,” says Eric, who praises Munson Lake’s consistent product and timely delivery.
“We feed Munsons from the calves all the way up through our cows,” adds Scott.
In the future, the partners of Hoese Dairy plan to add efficiency through technology and labor savings.” We’ll get the Vector paid for, and then look into possible robot milkers, if they cash flow better,” says Eric, “but we’re happy with the numbers we’re at right now.
The family’s present focus is to get the Vector working the way they want it to with their milk cows and to extend the technology to their dry cows and heifers, as well.
The adoption of new technology by this father-son dairy should surprise no one. In the tie-stall barn back in the ‘90s, Scott and Yvonne were on the cutting edge of technology when he installed a track feeder. This equipment fed corn and protein several times daily for higher milk production levels.
Editor’s Note: Eric’s wife Erica and Scott’s wife Yvonne work off the farm but pitch in when needed. Scott manages the dairy’s crop production and cleans the barn. Eric juggles the milking schedule, works with the calves and does the accounting. Besides the two partners, the Hoese Dairy Farm employs several part-time milkers.