Shady Glen Farms is a family run partnership involving Steven and Yvonne Jones (Michael, Andrew, Luke and Carina), Kevin and Carolyn Jones (Landry, Grace, Clara and Gavin), David and Myrna Jones and Wayne and Elaine Simpson. Steve’s focus is crop production and Kevin’s focus is dairy production. Yvonne has a career with the National Bank and Carolyn is a Registered Dietician. David and Myrna Jones and Wayne and Elaine Simpson provide support to the operation looking after livestock in their former tie-stall milk barns as some tractor work and providing us with the opportunity to take over their respective Jersey herds.
What is the farm’s Management Philosophy?
We use science-based decision making to maximize output and minimize inputs. Since 2001 when we formed the partnership, we have leveraged our parent’s equity base and by constantly looking for new opportunities to add revenue and improve, we have expanded by more than 100kgs of quota, 450 acres of owned land and around 600 acres of total cropping acres.
We also try to plan for the future as there will always be the need for the farm business to increase in scale and we have 8 kids between us that will grow up on the farm. Farm succession is not a one-time event. We are not even finished with the succession from Mom and Dad, Uncle Wayne and Aunt Elaine, and we already consider how the next generation will be integrated here.
What technologies or management tools have you adopted in the past that have been successful?
- We have used DHI’s management software “Scout” Dairy Comp for almost 10 years. It makes reproduction management efficient and we can benchmark the herd’s results.
- Building the sand-bedded freestall barn was a game changer. The cows are truly comfortable on the sand, we have less than 1% per year mastitis treatment rate. Research shows sand to be the far superior bedding choice for cows. Milking in the parlor over the tie-stall allows us to milk cows faster and with less physical demands.
- The Automatic calf feeder has reduced the workload of calf feeding by 20-40 minutes per day. I feel the growth has been better as they are consuming up to 10Litres/day. The first calves on the new system are freshening now. We look forward and hope to see a production increase as a result.
- Our reproduction management has intensified in the past 2 years. We are doing herd health every other Tuesday morning. We implement Presynch, Resynch, Ovsynch, CIDR Synch so that all cows have a first service by 100 days. The result from this effort is a 21-day preg rate of 25% which keeps our days in milk between130-180.
- In the fields, we use GPS, auto-steer and yield monitoring. We have one year of yield mapping which we are keen to use to help with decision on future investments in land and equipment improvements such as: tile, compaction reducing tires and fertility.
What technologies or management tools might you consider in the future?
We have made the decision to switch from our double-8 parlor to 2 Lely Robots this summer. With this we will have much more information from the cows and be a bit more flexible around chore time to be able to take advantage of other possible business opportunities and to be involved with the kid’s activities.
Following the guest address given by American Jersey’s Neil Smith at the 2016 Jersey Ontario AGM, I am convinced the great potential for genomic testing is on herds such as ours. We are looking to implement a strategy of identifying a portion of our herd to breed to sexed female jersey sires and a portion to breed to sexed male beef sires.
What benchmarks do you use most often?
Key numbers from our DHI reports I most often use are: 21-day Preg Rate, Avg DIM, Herd Turnover, Avg. Age a 1st calving, milk solids production per cow and Energy Corrected Milk. I like looking at BCA too, but it is not the best benchmark to use.
In terms of financial benchmarks, we keep an eye on debt service capacity and operating expense ratio.