Tech-Filled Barn Helps Dairy Stay Competitive

  • Article
  • March 15, 2017

Dairy farmer Jason Van Der Toorn has one of the most technology advanced farms in the state of Arizona.

From smart tractors to meters in his barn to the ability to remote access into his office every day, he is able to keep a close watch on his 3,000 cows and 80 acres of land. By having a macro view, Van Der Toorn said he ensures the cows are in the best position to be taken care of by specialized groups of people.

“Technology helps us manage the herd as efficiently as possible. This allows us to feed the cows with a great deal of accuracy, making sure the cows get exact amount of nutrition to keep the cows very healthy,” Van Der Toorn said. “Technology helps us in the barn by being able to measure multiple points of the milking procedure to milk the cows in the most comfortable environment possible.”

Boschma Farm is a family-owned and run dairy farm that has been operating out of Tolleson, Arizona, since the 1930s when all the milking was still done by hand. The dairy gets its current name form the Boschmas who bought the farm back in 1974 and have since passed it down to their children.

After becoming an electrician and building systems on dairy farms, Van Der Toorn joined his wife’s family farm. Van Der Toorn said he believes his mother and father-in-law saw the dairy community going this direction with technology.

“I think they are very happy to see that all of their very hard work paying off. They used to do all of the work on the dairy by hand every day of the week,” Van Der Toorn said.

Wanting to remain competitive in the market as more advancements in the dairy industry were developing, Van Der Toorn remodeled his barn. When all of their work was done manually, it cost them additional time, money and labor.

“It might take as many as 100-plus employees to do the work of the 29 people doing it today,” Van Der Toorn said, in reference to how his barn has changed since his in-laws ran it.

In addition to remodeling the barn and installing advanced milking equipment, they improved production by installing an automated milking system so they could cut manual labor costs and move cows through the barn more quickly.

Van Der Toorn is now able to easily monitor and record data from different areas of the dairy to oversee any changes to their system done by each employee. He can also analyze how much milk each cow is giving each day.

The dairy equipment is controlled from a touchscreen device and allows for remote access to monitor milk meters, adjust controls and receive direct alerts via email or text if an issue arises, such as a change in milk temperature or a reduction in milk flow. All of these tools have made running the family farm more efficient, while the farm values have remained the same since the day it opened.

“We only succeed if the quality and comfort of our animals, coupled with dedicated employees are at their best. Bottom line is we love and are very blessed to produce milk,” Van Der Toorn said. “We love all of our cows and are grateful we are able to wake up every day and work in this industry.”

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