North Florida Holsteins of Bell, Fla. owned by Don Bennink, started out at 125 cows in 1980 and has gradually expanded over time. The farm now encompasses 7,000 cows, 3,000 head of young stock and approximately 3,000 acres, making it the single-largest dairy operation in the state.
The operation started with 125 cows that were milked in a double-10 herringbone parlor. In 1985, they reached full capacity at 1,000 cows and made the decision to add an additional double-12 herringbone parlor. At that point, they started milking three times a day.
Expansion was required again in 1990 when both parlors were at full capacity. For the next expansion, they chose a double-40 parallel parlor. This allowed them to milk 80 cows at a time, three times per day. Following this expansion, the double-12 became the hospital facility, while the double-10 was converted to offices.
The farm has worked through various challenges in cow comfort. In 2002, they built their first tunnel ventilation facility. They were pleased to see how the ventilation improved their animals’ health so they continued to build tunnel ventilated facilities, adding bunk sprinklers to keep the animals cooler throughout the humid months.
North Florida Holsteins raises a variety of crops including corn for corn silage, sorghum and rye. Currently the bulk of their forages are purchased from neighboring farms. However, the operation plans to continue to add more land in the future.
In order to feed the 10,000 head of cattle, North Florida Holsteins uses a KUHN Knight VTC 1120 Vertical Maxx® mixer, along with two additional older model KUHN Knight vertical twin-auger mixers.
“We partner the mixers with a software program from Digi-Star to be sure we are feeding the proper amounts."
The KUHN Knight VTC 1120 twin-auger mixer has been used on the operation for the past two years, however the KUHN Knight line of mixers has been in use on the farm since 1995.
“When we bought our first KUHN Knight mixer, we decided quickly we needed another one. They are big, heavy-duty wagons that can haul large loads, yet still mix consistently well."
The KUHN Knight VTC 1120 is a commercial, twin-auger mixer with a rugged build for producers striving to feed their cattle around the clock. The twin-augers are useful for delivering a consistent, palatable ration.
“Each day we prepare a number of different rations to feed our herd, three different rations for the cows and nine for our heifers. We use the VTC 1120 mixer 12 hours per day, mixing approximately 21 batches during those 12 hours. Our other mixer is used to mix 20 batches of feed in the same time period, with the remaining mixer serving as our backup in case of problems."
The VTC 1120 is built to last under heavy use on any operation. This is accomplished through unique extended-wear DuraMixTM components comprised of heavy-duty steel in the mixer floor, liner and auger flighting.
The mixer drive system adds to the machine’s durability because it’s designed to operate up to 24 hours a day. In addition to the durable gearboxes, the system also operates with two torque-disconnect power take-offs that provide protection for the planetary gearboxes. This helps to ensure a longer mixer life and reliable service.
The VTC 1120 model has a capacity of 1,200 cubic feet without extensions or 1,320 cubic feet with extensions, and has a number of configuration options for single- or tandem-axle trailers, truck mounts or stationary applications.
“We can mix 40,000 pounds of feed every trip, which allows me to maximize my trips to each barn, so I can increase my feed output, while decreasing my feeding time."
The VTC 1120 has an efficient mixing chamber that allows for greater feed movement with lower horsepower requirements. This is accomplished through straighter sides and steeper baffles to provide fluffy and palatable rations for cows and heifers alike.
“The KUHN Knight mixers help to make our operation run smoothly because they mix consistently. They work very well and they are machined well. We have continued to buy KUHN equipment and we will continue that tradition in the future."