My name is Shaun Hardtke, and I welcome you to FutureCow’s new dairy blog. Join myself and the FutureCow team as we share ideas and advice to help our awesome dairy community. We will explore parlor set-ups and milking protocols, modern barn layouts, cattle brush products for humane animal welfare and animal husbandry, and different types of dairy management systems.
Always feel free to send ideas of what you would like to read about. Let’s make this an interactive blog experience!
But first, a little bit about me. I was born and raised on a 100-cow dairy farm in Northeast Wisconsin and worked at two dairies during my high school years. I quickly realized that dairy cows and farming, along with producing a wholesome and safe product was my passion. For 12 years until early 2021, I managed an 8,000-cow dairy not too far from my childhood stomping ground. In that role I had 50 people at the dairy who relied on my daily leadership. Currently my family and I still reside in the Northeast Wisconsin region.
In August of 2010, my team and I were first exposed to the FutureCow Teatscrubber. At the time, this was a very new concept in the dairy industry, but we were willing to try something new to make things better for everyone in the parlor.
We were using towels and struggling with cow throughput, milk quality issues, milker discomfort and milk let down. Our attention was being taken from the parlor to focus on daily duties in the barn, and our milking protocols were slipping through the cracks.
We all know that workers need to be managed and held accountable so that they are not cutting corners. They may not be doing it on purpose but let’s face it, milking cows 8 to 12 hours per day is a grueling, dirty, and physically demanding task.
We installed our first FutureCow system in our double 36 parlor with 3 scrubbers providing three 12-cow prep zones. The first week was a challenge to get my milkers on board and the cows used to the new stimulation that was much better than when we used towels.
Within one month we had to re-evaluate all previous take off settings due to improvement in our cows letting their milk down. We were so unaware of the upside potential that we had just unleashed.
Within two months we were able to keep the parlor running on time and most days we even ended early.
Within 4 months we lowered our SCC 30K points and clinical mastitis cases were cut in half. Our people were smiling again and the positive benefits from the Teatscrubber were sustainable! It was at that point I was sold on the Teatscrubber to provide a consistent teat prep routine to our cows.
Fast forward to Christmas 2020 and I was offered an awesome opportunity to join the FutureCow team as Director of Milk Quality and Safety. I never thought that I could move away from working directly in dairy production, but this role allows me to do what I am so passionate about and share that passion with more dairies and more farmers.
Over the last year, I realized that if you are passionate about something and believe in the benefits that come with it, your work is easy because you are not trying to push a false narrative or just sell a product.
I genuinely want to educate farm owners and their teams to help them achieve ultimate success. So I invite you to join me on this FutureCow adventure as we showcase industry experts, new products and research, and groundbreaking concepts to improve your farm and your life.