This is our first post in what we’re calling the Alltech Farm Innovation Series, where we hope to highlight producers large and small who are innovative and finding new avenues of profitability and efficiency.
Our first stop is a small, family-owned dairy farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Chaney family has been farming since the late 1800s, and they’re committed to three core principles: family involvement, finding new paths during hard times and educating consumers about farmers’ commitment to producing a wholesome product sustainably.
Taking a risk to innovate for the future began in 2003 for the Chaneys, when Carl Chaney and his wife Debra opened an ice cream store, Chaney’s Dairy Barn, on their dairy farm. Today, they not only sell homemade ice cream but have a full-service restaurant, farm tours, an event venue and gift shop.
These innovations have allowed the Chaney family to continue their commitment to dairy farming despite low milk prices. The operation is still growing and expanding today, and the Chaneys say they have been humbled by their community’s support and interest in what once seemed like a crazy idea.
Over more than 76 years, the Chaney family has milked cows in almost every way possible.
Recently, Carl Chaney became convinced his farm’s facilities were limiting the genetic potential he knew his cattle had. When looking at upgrades, it was a no-brainer to start from the ground up, literally.
After discussion with local specialists, the family decided to move forward with a compost-bedded pack barn. Due to the nutrient requirements of a free-stall barn, this seemed to be the best option on the limited amount of land they had.
Chaney Farm decided to go with a Lely A4 robotic milking system, as it was the best fit for the goals and needs of the operation.
The first week integrating the new system was difficult, but pre-planning and work to get the cows acclimated to the system’s sounds and movements helped in the transition. Watch below to see how the Lely A4 robot works.
Curious about using robots in your operation? Carl Chaney says to make sure you do your research. Visit other robotic milking operations, with different systems and brands, to find out what will work for you.
Secondly, be sure to budget carefully. Multiple spreadsheets and financial assessment tools are available through local experts and universities.
Finally, your relationship with your feed provider is very important, as the pellet in the robot is a key component to the success of the system. Make sure your feed provider is with you every step of the way, observing your herd and being flexible as your operation’s needs change.
For Carl, four advantages to the new system stand out.
Chaney Farm worked with Dairy Express Services, out of Columbia, Kentucky, for purchase, installation and service of the robot. Their feed provider is CPC Commodities, in Fountain Run, Kentucky. Chaney Farm currently uses the following Alltech products in their ration: Yea-Sacc® 1026, Bioplex® Complete, Sel-Plex®, Bio-Mos® and Select GH®.
Learn more about Chaney Farm: