Gertie and Geert van den Goor
Transplants from the Netherlands, the Van den Goors milk 3,000 cows at their Goma Dairy and were named 2014 Dairy Farmers of the Year by Michigan State University.
Producing the best quality of nutritious wholesome milk is the main goal of every dairy farm. For us, three components—all of them of equal importance—make for good quality milk.
The first component is the calves that are born on the farm. We start vaccinating the calves as soon as they are born, and from then on, they receive scheduled vaccines into all stages of their life. Health is also tied into good living conditions, access to balanced rations and fresh water so we pay a lot of attention to those details.
The second component is the milk equipment. With a double-36 parlor, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, break, not set right or be not as clean as we want it. With checklists, we try to make sure things that can have a major impact are being checked regularly. Having monthly maintenance and a good working relationship with the milk inspector help us meet the goal of quality milk.
The third component is the milkers and milking procedure. A lot of time is dedicated to making sure our milkers are trained well, get the feedback they need to do well and to make sure people understand why the procedure is the way it is and why it is important.
Paying forward some of the quality bonus we receive helps too.
Milk quality will be always a challenge and a never-ending thing that will need our attention on a daily basis. Sticking to a routine and protocol seems to be working best at our farm. So, if that day comes when something goes wrong that impacts our counts, we have the tools in place to get to the source of the problem as fast as possible.