Planning a new barn for dairy cows? Managing Director of Hamra Farm shares some valuable tips

DeLaval is investing in its own farm, Hamra Farm, to prepare for future dairy production needs. The farm is run as a commercial farm, but it is also a showcase farm for DeLaval customers, as well as a research barn where DeLaval equipment is tested and analysed. Johan Bjurevall, Managing Director at Hamra Farm, shares some advice on what to think about when planning a new barn.

What is most important when starting to plan for a new barn? 

First, you need to have a clear objective for the project. What do you want to achieve and why? I think it helps to have an open mind and not to stick to one solution. Invite people to share their ideas and opinions on drawings and solutions. One very important thing is to, at an early stage, involve the people who are going to work in the barn ─ their input is extremely valuable.   

What kind of support did you seek when starting to plan the new barn? 

We have the advantage of having good and competent people very close by as the DeLaval Headquarters is just a few minutes’ walk from us. Our chairman is also managing the Large Customer Project Developments team at DeLaval, so we started to work together with his group. In addition, we wanted to have a view on the project that was not biased in any way, so we involved an external consultant to help us with solutions and drawings.  

Drawing of the new VMS barn at Hamra Farm

The plan is to increase the number of dairy cows from 250 to 550, how do you prepare for such an increase? 

We are self-sufficient when it comes to silage, hay, and barley for our animals. So, one of the first things we did was to change and implement a new crop plan according to the new herd size and the demand for more grass ley. In addition, we changed the breeding plan to increase the herd. It´s a long-term plan, and we needed to act immediately.  

Which breeds do you have at the farm today and will you keep them? 
Today, we have Holstein and SRB (Swedish Red). Hamra Farm has a long history of breeding strong and healthy cows, and also many great bulls over the years. We are very focused with breeding to keep up the great work done in this area, and every now and then we sell some bulls and heifers to a breeding company. There are some wishes to introduce a third breed on the farm, e.g., Jersey ─ I guess the future will decide what we will do. 

What type of milking systems have you chosen for the new barn?  

When talking about milking solutions, the answer is quite easy for us ─ we will use the latest technology DeLaval offers ─ VMS™ V300 or V310, where V310 includes automated pregnancy checks and heat detection during milking. Of course, VMS is a DeLaval solution, but it is also a great milking robot. We have high requirements on efficiency and animal welfare, and we believe that the VMS fits very well for both areas. We also plan long-term and we want to have the best solutions to cater for that.   

Running a successful farm, as Hamra Farm is, what are some of the best tips you can share with other dairy farmers?  

 To have a reliable team that are professional and have the experience and passion for the animals and put them first, that is really the most important part. After that, you need to have good quality roughage, the right management, good cooperation with the different units on the farm, and strong and healthy animals. 

You also need to continuously work with a reasonable level of maintenance and do the necessary investments. If you do not develop and invest in your business, you won´t be successful long-term.