Anything is possible when you trust the right people.
Circle T Dairy
Consultant: Matt Leak
Skepticism. Discouragement. Laughter. Those were the sentiments that Tom Griffin, owner of Circle T Dairy in Trenton, Utah, encountered in 2012 when he started dreaming of a robotic milking system. At the time, Tom’s facility was more than 100 years-old and he knew something had to change in order to keep the family dairy going for future generations. A true family legacy, Circle T Dairy was started in 1890 by Tom’s great-grandfather.
As Tom researched different options for the facility update, what was most important to him wasn’t expanding his Holstein herd, but rather improving efficiency in a way that would allow Circle T Dairy to remain a family-run operation.
“We really didn’t want the worries of hiring outside labor or trusting strangers with the care of our cows,” says Tom. “I knew robots were the right solution for us, but at the time no one in the state of Utah had any experience with them.”
Tom’s dream was reaching into the risky realm of the new and unknown. No one seemed willing to help him; not even Tom’s feed supplier of 40 years would work on creating a robot feed . Being keenly aware of how important nutrition, especially the robot pellet, would be to the success of the free-flow system, Tom had to find someone who could adjust the ration and work with his homegrown forages.
That’s when Tom turned to Cargill Dairy Focus Consultant Matt Leak who also happened to be a fellow dairy farmer. Tom was immediately encouraged by Matt’s positivity and confidence.
“He said we’ll make it happen,” explains Tom. “His attitude really made the difference. He was forward thinking and I knew I had finally found the support I needed.”
Although Matt had never formulated a ration for a robot herd, he knew several of his Cargill colleagues and tech specialists who had. They provided a vast network of knowledge for him to tap into.
“Matt got the pellet in for us before the transition and worked tirelessly to refine it” adds Tom.
On July 7, 2015, nearly seven years after he first started dreaming of milking robots, Tom’s system went live. That day, Matt showed up in his work boots ready to help the herd transition and to ensure the robot pellet and partial mixed ration (PMR) were refined to the herds needs.
A few weeks after the transition Tom saw an increase in milk production from 72 pounds of milk per cow per day to 85. A clear indication that both the robots and the rations were working well!
Today, Circle T Dairy milks 120 cows with 2 robots. The cows average 94 pounds of milk per day, and the herd has a phenomenal pregnancy rate at 27%. While it could have been easy for Tom to get discouraged and give up on his dream, his passion for it along with the help of the team from Cargill helped bring his dream to life.