“If you don’t take care of the cows, they won’t take care of you,” explains John Rishel.
As some of the highest milk producing dairy cattle in the state of Pennsylvania, the herd at R-Horizon Farm has been good to Rishel and his wife, Duska – and they, of course, have been good to their cows.
The couple updated their tie-stall barn six years ago by installing six new portable DeLaval DelPro™ MU480 milking units. When Rishel was toying with the idea of upgrading his equipment, he looked for a solution that kept his cows comfortable in their existing tunnel ventilated barn but offered him a better way to manage milk weights and reproduction records. He wanted to move away from the time-consuming task of manual recordkeeping and start collecting real-time data seamlessly and digitally.
Rishel’s MU480 milking units have given him this ease and flexibility, as he milks his cows three times a day. The milkers are wirelessly linked to Rishel’s central computer where he uses DelPro herd management software to analyze the health of his herd. He can make breeding, culling and drying-off decisions conveniently from any one of his networked computers in the dairy barn, the heifer barn or his house. Rishel has a custom calf and heifer raising operation where he uses DelPro to keep track of these animals, too. He enjoys having the daily yield report, calving plan, and heifer and pregnancy check reports available with just a few clicks of his mouse.
The DeLaval MU480 units are a real breakthrough for stanchion dairying. Not only do they provide up-to-the minute information on cow productivity to support the decision making process, the units feature Smart ID, an ICAR-approved milk meter, automatic cluster removal and stable vacuum. In fact, this vacuum stability system pairs well with Rishel’s Harmony clusters, helping to optimize vacuum levels and liner action – ensuring a speedy, complete and safe milking out. The milk barn’s DeLaval cleaning unit C125 also does its job more effectively with the marrying of these solutions.
John Rishel didn’t grow up on a dairy farm, but his grandparents and uncles all milked cows. They are retired now, but Rishel’s desire to work with cows convinced him to start his own dairy operation outside Watsontown in 2002. He’ll admit: “I like working with cows. They’ve always been good to me.”
When it comes to making his own legacy as a dairy producer, Rishel doesn’t sugar-coat the facts. “Margins are too tight not to take care of stuff. The better managers are going to take care of the cows and land because it’s going to give them a return on their investment. Those that take care of the cows, there will be something left for them to pass on.”