Bleckenstad - Sweden

Key statistics

  • Herd size: 300 ( 50% SRB (Swedish Red) and 50% SLB (Holstein)
  • Location: Mjölby, Sweden
  • Type of animals: Cows
  • Milking system: Automatic milking
  • Region: Europe
“It’s a matter of being more efficient. The VMS has allowed this farm to grow and has given us more kilograms of milk produced from the herd, per farm employee – representing good labour savings.

Farm Management:

The farm has been in the Johansson family since 1913 and the brothers hope to keep it there for more generations to come.

“In a sense we see ourselves as managers of this farm’s resources, borrowing from it now to make a living and secure something for our children. We also see it as a lifestyle where we don’t count the working hours too strictly.”

Management decisions are discussed between the three brothers, who have equal shares in the farm. “We take different areas of responsibility including cows, crops plus feedstuffs and the book-keeping. Gunnar also operates a farm shop where we emphasis new products, etc.”

The Johansson brothers also use a feeding consultant once a month and an economical consultant twice a month - along with weekly visits by a local advisory group and a veterinarian.

Nutritient Management:

  • Manure removal system: Open manure channels with line scraper and manure press in the gutter
  • Storage: 8 x manure containers with a total volume of 6 000 m3
  • Recruitment barn: Deep straw boxes with scraped manure gutter at the feeding trough.
  • Hydraulic manure removal of Deltagrip type

Produced manure is returned to the fields and the brothers believe that the better this manure is, the better the crop yield will be. “We use a liquid manure system to transport manure to the silos and we empty those at regular intervals. We also have solid manure where the heifers walk on deep straw beds.”

Feeding:

  • Feed management: Silage with 50 % clover
  • Storage: Silage pipe
  • Feed system: Until now the feed has been mixed but feed stations are currently being installed with conversion to Feed First
  • Calf feeding system: DeLaval CF150 calf feeders for full milk

The cows are partially fed in the VMS during milking with concentrate and crushed grain, before moving to a TMR of silage and “other natural ingredients”. During the summer the herd enjoys pasture and their ration is decreased accordingly.

“We use a herd managament system to set each cow’s ration individually in the VMS. With the herd management system we can guide the feed to each cow according to her stage of lactation and milk yield. We also use a local ecological advisor to help figure out the feeding schedule. Apart from that we give the cows free access to TMR, which is fed every three hours. A lot of energy comes from the pasture, so harvesting is crucial to us for top quality roughage. We make our silage in long sausage shapes with organic acids and wrap it in plastic.”

Crops and forages:

To maintain the farm’s ecological approach, the Johansson’s do not spray any chemicals on their fields or use chemical fertilisers.

“We haven’t bought any chemicals, pesticides or insecticides since 1998”.

Their land consists of 430 hectares of fields, 150 hectares of grazing lands and 350 hectares of forest.

“We grow most of the feed ourselves with the station mixture of pasture seeds, according to ecological rules. There is also a lot of white clover in it which gives nitrogen to the soil, but we have limited nitrogen usage on the farm.”

Milking:

  • Average of 2.6 milkings per day.
  • 4 milking robots DeLaval voluntary milking system VMS
  • Utilize ALPRO™ herd management system
  • The average yield right now is 8800 kilograms ECM (Energy Corrected Milk) and a SCC of around 200,000.
  • Milk volume / cow / day: 27 kg
  • 1 x DeLaval DXCEM 14 000 litre cooling tank
  • 1 x Instant cooling 300 litre buffer tank

“Normally in the summer our cows milk themselves in the morning and then walk out to pasture before returning back at noon when they feel like being milked. They walk approximately 500 yards to the VMS to milk themselves and then sometimes eat some concentrate from the VMS - which is restricted because of our ecological management - before returning again to pasture. We are currently adding more cows to the herd, so the yield will increase. For some reason their yield increases in the spring. We believe it’s because of the good pasture with fresh grass."

Recruitment:

  • 300 animals
  • Calving interval of 12.3 months
  • Age of calving: 26 months
  • No. of inseminations / gestation: 1.6

“We don’t raise all the calves ourselves – we’ve contracted another farmer to help. We send the calves away to this farmer after 10 months and we receive pregnant heifers from him. The bull calves are sent off farm at 10 to 12 weeks. We now use a combination of bulls and artificial insemination but when the herd is increased we will only use artificial insemination.”

Housing:

  • Fittings: 320 lying cubicles with rubber mats
  • Ventilation: open ridge vents, self-ventilating
  • Size of barn: 47 m x 39 m
  • Construction year: 2002
  • Construction cost per box: SEK 50 000 (4 720 euro, 6 320 USD)

Bleckenstad Farm uses a barn for dry cows and calves are also in this facility, with boxes for calving. Older heifers are housed in the VMS system’s cubicles.

“We also have some old heifers in another barn and some with other farmers”.

All lactating cows rest on mattresses.

“Our cows enjoy the cow brushes and we think they have a very good environment to live in”.

The farm’s new VMS barn is constructed with “a high ceiling and large light input for good air and cow comfort”.

“Apart from the cow mattresses, cow brushes and other VMS facilities, Bleckenstad farm is managed ecologically. This form of management is excellent for cow health and of course, the environment. "

“It’s important for us that our cows have access to pasture between milkings. We also remove all manure with slow moving manure scrapers so the cows aren’t stressed.”

Future:

The decreasing number of herds in Sweden has convinced the Johansson brothers to continue increasing their herd size.

“It’s a matter of being more efficient. The VMS has allowed this farm to grow and has given us more kilograms of milk produced from the herd, per farm employee – representing good labour savings. We are aiming to milk 350 cows on this farm within the next few years and that will be no problem with four voluntary milking systems and one out-of-parlour feeding system. We expect to have a 9000 kilogram yield by the end of this time period.”

Published: September 2004, Last updated March 2009.

The dairy industry in Sweden (Jan 1st 2010):

  • Milk producers: 5 883
  • Dairy cows: 356 800 (June 2009)
  • Total milk production (2009): 2 925 800 tonnes
  • Production kg milk/cow and year: 8 321
  • Average number of cows per herd: 58
  • Consumption: 99,4 kg/capita per year

Source: Swedish Dairy Association