Optimise Results with Teamwork
Lorianne Pettigrew, TP, Dairy Production Advisor, Côte-du-Sud team, Appalaches region

La Ferme Villajoie runs on teamwork ! Nancy Grenier and Langis Lajoie, with their children Raphaël (12), Anabel (8), and Marie-Pier (16).Over the course of the past year, Ferme Villajoie in Saint-Arsène, in the Rivière-du-Loup region, has made encouraging progress due to the teamwork between Valacta’s advisor and strategic advisor, and the farm’s feed company representative.

The owners, Langis Lajoie and Nancy Grenier, are receptive people, concerned with performance and had acheived positive results in past years.

Since 2009, however, there had been a drop in their average production per cow during the same period in which the farm had experienced a labour shortage. In short, over the course of a few months, they had lost control of various management aspects and even worse, the significant drop in milk production had brought about a significant loss of revenue.

In the summer of 2010, Langis and Nancy called on Jean Brisson, a strategic advisor, and expert member of Valacta’s R&D team, to carry out a complete evaluation of their herd and formulate an action plan. This action plan and its results were monitored together, as a team, by Lorianne Pettigrew, their Valacta advisor and Roland Lambert, the Lactech/Shur-Gain* manager for the area.

When Jean Brisson visited In July, the farm’s production had been recorded at 8,639 kg/cow. By February 2011, it had grown to 9,579 kg, in increase of more than 900 kg, providing a gain of about $40,000 /year. And that’s not all: their current production is projected at 9,938 kg! Every month after new changes have been made, we have been able to witness a progression. It was, of course, important to monitor the results very closely and make the necessary adjustments to various points of management; such as calving preparation, cows at beginning of lactation, and feeding changes.

The progress has been easy to see: they are now producing the same amount of milk with 4 less cows, which will allow them to make better use of their forage inventory. An important savings because the area surrounding the farm expecienced a severe drought in the summer of 2010. Also, the production increase did not come about at the detriment of concentrate costs; they fall below the provincial average, with a milk:concentrate ratio of around 3.5 :1.0.

Ferme Villajoie would like to get the most out of their cows by improving cow comfort. The average cow weight in the herd is 696 kg, falling in the 90th percentile for Holsteins. For cows of this size, it is important for cow comfort to be made a priority. Employing teamwork with the help of Steve Adam, Valacta’s dairy production expert in comfort, welfare and behaviour, will help to improve longevity in the herd. The project is now in the planning stage so 2011 will definitely be a big year for Nancy, Langis and their children.

The creation of a concrete action plan and execution of rigourous monitoring by a team that is working toward the same goal has brought about positive results for the Ferme Villajoie. It goes without saying that we must continue to work using this winning formula: open collaboration on the farm between producers, advisors and industry partners; a wonderful example of synergy.

* Last January, Roland Lambert became Valacta’s Regional Manager in Les Appalaches.