For three generations the Wennemars family has been farming on the edge of the village of Oudleusen in the Netherlands. The village has grown but the dairy farm is still where it always was. Dick and Reineke took over the farm in 2005 and today they have 200 cows and 178 acres of land. Kaylee and Dean, who are both studying agriculture, lend a hand every day.
Running a dairy farm involves a never-ending balancing act. Balance between enjoying the work, having a personal life, enthusiasm and performance. If the work ceases to be enjoyable it will probably mean the end of the business. Running a dairy farm is a way of life. It is not something you can learn at school. You learn it on the job, and it is a job that is often passed down from one generation to the next. It is complex work and requires professional expertise.
Our aim is to run a sustainable dairy farm that enables both the farmers and the animals to perform at their best. Although upscaling is not an aim in itself, the farm must be large enough to allow for the necessary changes and to survive for the next generation.
In addition to running a dairy farm, we started selling Keenan mixer wagons in the Benelux in 2003. On our own dairy farm we use a Keenan paddle-mixing wagon to mix the fodder. Why? Because the fodder maintains its structure; small portions can be made up, for example for dry cows; and the mixture it produces is homogeneous. All of which is essential to feeding a healthy herd. This suits our own approach and we are keen to spread the word about this product.
In 2008, we started marketing Milk Bar in the Benelux. Milk Bar is a calf-feeding system from New Zealand. Back then, the only available feeding methods were an automatic calf-feeder or having the calves drink from a bucket. Feeding calves from a bar with a number of teats was unheard of at that time. Now, ten years later, Milk Bar rings a bell with every dairy farmer in the Benelux. Even calf-fattening farms use Milk Bar for calves in need of extra attention.
Inspired by the feedback we received from many dairy farmers and drawing on our own experience of feeding calves every day using Milk Bar, in 2016 we started developing our own calf-feeding system “Enjoy Calf Feeding” (ECF). We translated our needs into a teat bucket that is easy to clean and keep clean. The bucket is fitted with teats that are easy to change, a lid, and a bottom construction that minimises milk wastage. The basic principles remain unchanged: slow milk flow, a natural drinking position, good oesophageal groove reflex, plentiful saliva and healthy calves that are growing well. All our products are manufactured in the Netherlands from robust and sustainable materials.