On the job
"80-STALL SAC OUTDOOR MILKING SYSTEM SIGNIFICANTLLY REDUCES TIME PER MILKING AT ZEILEMAKER DAIRY GOAT FARM!"
We're visiting the Zeilemaker dairy goat farm, where Bas Zeilemaker and his brother Arend currently milk some 900 goats in an 80-stall SAC carousel outdoor milking system. Bas explains that since 1972, the business has been based at the location where his parents originally ran a dairy farm. "Additional quotas were established in the 1980s, but in the end they were never used." They were uncertain times for the Zeilemaker family and in the end they were forced to stop dairy farming.
From cattle farm to goat farm
Bas has had an interest in goats from an early age, and during his years at agricultural college he expanded his knowledge during practical weeks at the Dairy Training Centre in Oenkerk. Thanks to this his interest became a true passion and in 2000, in consultation with his parents, he made the decision to start a goat farm. "We adapted the existing cowshed and began with 250 dairy goats."
In 2011 the dairy goat farm started again from the beginning
"That was definitely not an easy time," Bas says. "Our business wasn't CAE [Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis] -free. When we started in 2000 it wasn't yet an issue. We had healthy young goats that already had CAE when we bought them, without us knowing. We eventually started keeping more goats, which meant that the risk of infection increased and the symptoms of CAE became obvious at an increasingly earlier stage." Bas explains that the goats were suffering from inflamed joints at a younger and younger age, and milk production fell sharply. Starting a business over again from scratch isn't something you do for no reason. "There was no future for the business with the livestock we had at the time," Bas's wife says.
In August 2011 all goats on the farm were culled. The shed was cleaned and disinfected and then was left empty for eight weeks to prevent the CAE infection recurring. The new goats arrived in October 2011, and all 700 goats kidded in the period from January through April 2012. "It was a pretty hectic time," Bas laughs. All of the new goats came from a CAE-free farm, meaning that the Zeilemaker dairy goat farm is now certified CAE-free too. "We now have healthy goats, and milk production has increased considerably."
A good feeling
Since 2020, Bas has been milking with a 80-stall SAC carousel outdoor milking system. "My first introduction to this SAC milking parlour was at a trade fair around 2015. It felt right straight away. Every shed has its pros and cons, but I had to have this outdoor milking system," Bas says. Milking in a 2x24 side-by-side milking parlour used to take around about 4.5 hours for each milking. Now it's down to just 1.5 hours per milking; that saves around six hours a day! "The startup went well; you do see that older goats take a bit more time to get used to it," Bas says.
"You see your goats twice a day and they stand close to the person doing the milking. This allows you to keep a close eye on the health of your goats, and separate them if necessary (the SAC milking parlour enables this) or treat them." The shed is equipped with a Unifloor, so it can be adjusted to the right working height. The HandyFlow 2 milking cluster is handed over by the SAC service arm, so attaching it is simple and ergonomic. Bas finds the SAC milking parlour's practicality extremely appealing. "It's easy to clean, and the milking time has been shortened considerably. We're able to work much more efficiently now."
"Despite the fact that we’re now in the startup phase of the new milking parlour, it's all going really well! The next step will be to realise an optimum shed climate for the goats," Bas says. The focus now will chiefly be on optimising the business further. "We're now milking around 900 dairy goats, and for me that's enough."
- 80-sall carousel outdoor
- 900 dairy goats
- 1.100 milkproduction/goat/year (kg)
- 4,15% fat
- 3,64% protein
Zwartsluis, The Netherlands