My Side of the Fence

Investment in the Farm

  • Peter de Jong, Author
  • Dairy Farmer, Southeastern Manitoba

Like any other business you have to invest in your livelihood to stay afloat. Each fall, start thinking and discussing investments with the family for the next year. I think, as most men, we like our toys (equipment), but let me be serious, because your livelihood is serious business.

This fall, we have decided to go a step further and invest more in the animal welfare of our dairy cattle. We looked at all kinds of new options in our dairy sector and visited several farms in the USA and Canada. We decided to invest in new pasture mats for our dairy cows, which allows for the cows to enjoy a very comfortable rest place to lay on while in their free stall. A free stall is a stall where the cows can go in and out voluntarily, so when they like to go to eat and drink they can go out of the stall and walk around in the barn to their food.

Barns are not like the days of old; cows can roam free in the barn and lay down very comfortable in any stall and any place in the barn. If you observe the milking cows, they mostly use the same spot where they lay down every day, so they have kind of own their stall. The new pasture mats will be installed this coming winter, the cost is close to $1,800 per stall, per cow. Comparable to a queen-size bed in a local store in Steinbach, it is cheaper; on your next visit to our farm, you can rest comfortably on this mattress.

But allow me to be serious – animal welfare is very important and if our animals are feeling very comfortable in our facilities they will reward with higher production. The challenge I now face is to convince the Bank Manager to lend money for this project. The bank system computer models will not recognize an investment in animal welfare. However, hopefully the Bank Manager’s background¬† and previous experience realizes that this is a good investment. In dealing with our Bank Manager, I know I am in good hands, because he has a farming background and a lot of experience in farm lending. I am a hundred percent confident he will lend us the money for this investment in our farm.

Have a great fall season.