The Gleaner
Agriculture

Farm uses existing structure for new milking tech

On March 21, Ferme Roch Verner et Fils hosted an open house at their farm to show off some of the new technology that has been implemented in the past couple of years. This farm has been in Saint-Stanislas-De-Kostka since 1948, when it was founded by Roch Verner. Today, the farm is run by Gaëtan Verner (Roch’s son), Maxime Verner (Roch’s grandson) and his wife Emilie Perras. They have four kids, Jacob, Julien, Jolyanne, and Justine.

In 2022, the team decided to install a GEA milking robot in their farm. Maxime Verner explains that this decision was made as a way to help with the labour shortage that so many farms have been dealing with since the COVID-19 pandemic. The open house they hosted was done with the goal to demonstrate how one of these robots can be introduced and “to show people that it’s possible to do a great project like this [milking robot] with a barn we already had,” Verner says.

The robot was installed in a building that had been built in 2014 to house dry heifers. Verner explains that “In 2022 we did a retrofit, so we demolished everything inside the barn and redid everything for the installations to have the cows with the robot.” By renovating an already existing structure instead of building a new one, they saved about 35 per cent of the costs.

 

The Verner family is excited about the new milking technology they were able to demonstrate during an open house on March 21 PHOTO Courtesy of Ferme Roch Verner et fils

 

The use of this robot has allowed the Verners to find a better work-life balance. Verner says, “We’re very happy to have made this move from attachment milking to robotized milking, which allows us to have a better quality of family life with our four children and gives us the chance to spend quality time with [them].” It also allowed their oldest son, Jacob, 10 years old, to discover his own passion for working with animals. “He’s in charge of checking that everything’s okay with the cows and doing the daily maintenance on the robot.”

The open house brought in 200 people to see how this robot works. Verner says, “The reaction of the people was fun to see, and they were happy to see what we’d managed to do with the barn we already had.” The farm was open from late morning until early evening. They even had Les Plaisirs Raffinés, a BBQ food truck from Granby, present to feed their guests.

The following day, Ferme Roch Verner & Fils hosted another 50 people for the annual Barn Party, in collaboration with ARAMO (Association de la relève agricole de la Montérégie-Ouest). This is an event that brings dairy farmers together every year to learn from each other’s practices. Entrance is free, and there are drinks and food provided for attendees. Each year, a different farm is selected to host this celebration of the industry.

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