”After three years at DeLaval, there is still no day like the other”

Hear from Ilka Klaas, Dairy Development Director, as she shares her story at DeLaval, her background as an academic, and her current work with research and innovation.

Ilka Klaas has an extensive background as a researcher and associate professor in cattle diseases. She grew up on the countryside in Germany and she started her career studying veterinary medicine in Berlin. Visiting the large herds around Berlin and internships in Germany and England sparked her interest in cows and dairy farming.

“Since I started visiting farms as part of my training and research, I fell in love with cows and wanted to work with them. First in Germany, then in Denmark – where still I spend a lot of time checking cows during milking, both in conventional parlours and in Automatic Milking Systems (AMS). I based my research and teaching on being out on farms amongst dairy herds instead of a lab. This was a great opportunity to learn Danish and to get to know the people taking care of the cows,” Ilka says.

Even though she enjoyed her research and teaching, she felt something was missing. This led her to DeLaval. “I felt it was too long time between the research and implementation on farms. This is really where the advantage of working for DeLaval presented itself; doing research and innovation with the goal of developing new products and solutions. This was a really big step for me,” she adds.

Ilka started working for DeLaval in October 2017 as a Dairy Development Director – the position she still has. In her job, she focuses on research and innovation, and she is part of the early phases of product development of new technologies. “Since I started at DeLaval, we have built up the Scientific Committee where we map our ongoing research projects with universities, evaluate the research proposals and support across our whole organisation. It was an amazing experience for me to see how many research collaborations we already conduct, and to see the network grow with great results coming in,” Ilka says.

When asked about what she would recommend to potential future colleagues, Ilka responds, “It is fantastic to work in an international environment with customers all over the world and it definitely has broadened my horizon – I learn so much about various ways of dairy farming. After three years at DeLaval, there is still no day like the other. There are so many new and exciting things happening all the time. If you want to work with innovation, you need to be curious, have an open mind, and dare to explore new technologies that might sound weird. Sometimes, the ideas don’t work out, but there are those crazy hypotheses that turns out to be possible and feasible. It is then a great journey to see an idea turn into a solution or product and experience the difference it makes for farmers and their animals.”

When it comes to future projects for Ilka and DeLaval, she is looking forward to continuing with the important innovations and research. “I want to do even more innovation for healthy and productive cows, both within DeLaval and together with external partners, as precision dairy farming will become more important in the future. Monitoring and managing cows and their performance does not only require innovative sensor technology, but development of the best algorithms to identify cows that need additional attention as well. In addition, our customers need our support on the most appropriate management procedures. We can see a clear interest in the data that our milking systems and sensors obtain. Sustainability is a very high priority for me, and it is important for us as a company to help make our customers more sustainable whilst improving their profitability. Lastly, I look forward to meeting my colleagues in person again and the cows and really dive into our innovation projects,” Ilka concludes.

Thank you, Ilka, for sharing your story and for your great dedication to find innovative solutions and conduct research for a more sustainable dairy farming!