Doug and Bruce Benthem
Centrus Composite Rotary
"All the farmers we talked to, who were using Waikato sheds, spoke highly of them – the platforms sell themselves"
The decision to invest in a Waikato Milking Systems Centrus Composite Rotary parlour was cemented when Doug and Bruce Benthem visited New Zealand to speak to farmers who were using them.
“We liked the concept of a composite rotary platform which is extremely light and strong but wanted to talk to people who worked in them, so we went to New Zealand. All the farmers we talked to, who were using Waikato sheds, spoke highly of them – the platforms sell themselves,” Bruce Benthem said.
Benthem Brothers Dairy is located in McBain, Michigan today milking 2000 cows on as many acres but it wasn’t always this large, or intensive Bruce recalling his father milked 30 cows.
“Doug and I took over from our father in 1982. We started a partnership and progressed from those 30 original cows. My two sons, Ryan and Kyle along with Doug’s son Jason joined us as partners with a vison to create a viable business for all five families,” Bruce Benthem said.
“I was the last one in the group to agree with the growth plans. They had to convince me it was the right thing to do. I was pretty content with where we were at the time. I didn’t want the farm to rule our lives but they assured me that the right growth in the right way would always have the family at the centre.”
Herd growth was limited by the milking system they had at the time, which consisted of an expansion system in the stalls of the barn. However, this was rectified in 1992 when a neighbouring farm came on the market with a 12 aside herringbone milking parlour.
“We moved across to the new parlour and progressively increased the size of the herd. By 2016 we were milking 1200 cows around the clock; we just never stopped and realised we had to invest in a new dairy to enable the farm to reach its potential,” Bruce said.
With the decision made to build a new dairy, Bruce and Doug began visiting various types of parlour.
“We looked at herringbone sheds but didn’t like how the cows had to be pushed into and out of the parlour.
“When we looked at rotaries we couldn’t believe how calm the cows were and how everything was going so slow but you were milking so fast. That really impressed us. Utilisation of labour was very good and the rotaries tended to have a higher level of automation than herringbones which was a consideration.”
Jason and Ryan Benthem had earlier visited Waikato Milking Systems in Madison where they met with International Sales Manager, Grant Wisnewski. Bruce recalls they came home very impressed with the company culture and the innovation of its systems. “Grant then came to the farm to meet Doug and he encouraged us to go to New Zealand so we could see a variety of parlours.”
After reporting back to their sons, the partnership decided on a 60 bail Waikato Centrus Composite Rotary platform. The new platform has Heavy Duty bails which are manufactured from higher tensile steel and are sized to accommodate large framed cows.
Centrus Composite Rotary platforms were originally designed to meet the continuous use experienced in large intensive 24/7 dairy operations around the world but are now in demand, around the world, by farmers wanting an extremely strong, light platform which will outperform and outlast any other platform on the market.
The Centrus Composite rotary platform is exclusive to Waikato Milking Systems.
The platform is complemented by Waikato Milking Systems SmartECR (automatic cup removers), electronic milk meters, SmartD-TECT mastitis detection, SmartPULS digital pulsation system, SmartWASH fully automatic plant wash system and NaviGate Herd Management system.
Installation of the new dairy was undertaken by a specialist team from Waikato Milking Systems who accompanied the new platform from New Zealand, supported by Ryan Vanderwal of Premium Farm Solutions, Lake City. The first milking in the new parlour took place in November 2016,
“We’re really happy with the new platform. Three people work in the parlour, milking three times a day.
“The decision to go with Waikato was the right one; now if the milk price’d improve we’d be really happy.”
- Electronic Milk Meters
- NaviGate Herd Management