Valtra tractors help achieve 13,000 litres of milk per cow on French farm
Text Margaux Laboisse Photos: Margaux Laboisse
The Streicher family, including Dominique the father, Guy his brother and Léo the eldest son of Dominique, run the GAEC Kleinfeld farm in Bas-Rhin in Alsace, France. Historically Valtra customers, the Streichers had experimented with another brand for a while but this year returned to Valtra to enjoy once more the Finnish tractors. This is also an important year for the Streicher family, as they have planned many projects.
Productivity, animal welfare and responsibility
Milk production represents 90 percent of the farm’s business. Its 110 Holstein cows produce an average of 13,000 litres of milk per year, making the farm famous in the world of dairy farming – Holstein cows on average produce between 5475 and 9125 litres per year. In fact, the Streicher’s farm was ranked first for milk production in France, Belgium and Switzerland for three years in a row by PLM, a French magazine for dairy cow breeders.
Top milk producers in 2018:
- Gaec Ferme Kleinfeld, Hilsenheim: 13,593 litres/year
- Earl des Quarante, Maretz: 12,685 litres/year
- Gaec Robert, Pompaire: 12,271 litres/year
Sand bedding and optimised feed mixing system
Dominique Kleinfeld highlights two features in the management of his herd that help achieve and maintain such a high level of productivity. The first is the use of sand for bedding. This provides a comfortable, temperate sleep and limits pathologies, as well as slipping. It is as if the cows are at the beach all year round!
The sand is locally supplied from a sand pit just 7 kilometres from the farm. Sand is also a smart economic and logistical choice, as it costs just 4 euros per tonne and the amount needed for 6 months is just 280 tonnes.
Kleinfeld believes sand is much more advantageous than straw, and it is a real comfort for his dairy cows alongside all the other elements arranged for their daily wellbeing, such as brushes, fans, water sprays and robots pushing fodder.
The second feature is the feed mixing system. The ration is made and mixed only once for the whole year. This allows the farm to have just two silos: one for corn silage and one with a mixture of side products and components.
The side products are also completely regional, including the grain, pressed pulp, non-GMO soybean grain, rapeseed, soybean and wet side products, such as soluble corn. The management of a single mixture allows absolute regularity for the feeding of the dairy cows throughout the year.
The entire GAEC Kleinfeld farm team
Biogas and simplified cultivation techniques
The family has also created a new company, SAS Streicher, to start biogas production. Work began at the start of this year on the construction of two 1.2-million-litre pits for slurry, a digester, and a 3.65-million-litre storage pit for after-digestion material to generate 250 kW of electricity.
The objective is to be as energy independent as possible, as well as to generate additional income and recycle waste. For example, the recovered sand will be spread on the heaviest soils. The biogas plant also enables the digestate leaching of essential parts of the effluents to produce fertilizer and limit evaporation.
These new activities include a switch to simplified cultivation techniques, including specific stubble cultivation, semi-simplified sowing, and rotations with meslin to gain the maximum potential of the available areas. To complete the fairly concentrated dairy cow ration, the Kleinfeld farm adds very high-quality hay from their best meadows.
Five new Valtra tractors
To achieve the best productivity as responsibly as possible, the farm purchased five new Valtra tractors at the end of 2019. The tractors are designed to adapt to each user and each specific task.
An A114 was purchased to be used daily for fodder distribution and mineral fertilisation. The Streicher family also invested in two complementary N Series models, an N134 and an N174, both with the Active transmission that makes them simple to use and handle by all employees and drivers. The N174 is also a compact yet powerful model with a perfect power-to-weight ratio that makes it ideal for pulling a trailer or implement.
The fourth new tractor on the farm is a T214 Versu equipped with SmartTouch, which will be used with a 10-metre mower, as well as for stubble cultivation and sowing. The Streicher family also chose to invest in their first auto guidance equipment to save time and limit overlap. For all the sowing, they chose a precision of 2 centimetres with the RTK signal, the technology for which is integrated in the SmartTouch armrest.
The fifth new tractor is the workhorse, an S294 that will be used for major jobs, such as stubble cultivation, towing liquid manure trailers and silage.
The family purchased its new fleet of Valtra tractors from EURO-AGRAR dealer, whose salesperson Maxime Huss also previously sold Valtra tractors to the farm.