Farmer/owner: Willem & Co Van der Horst
Farm location: Ossenwaard 20, 3945 PG, Cothen, Netherlands
Farm name: Willem & Co Van der Horst
Herd: 128 Holsteins
Milking system: Two Fullwood Merlins
Date of installation: September 2007
There are few farmers who can genuinely claim to have been pioneers in the field of robotic milking, but that accolade certainly goes to the Van der Horst family. It was in 1997 that they had the courage of their convictions to install the first Merlin robot in the Netherlands. It’s certainly not a year they will forget as it was also the 25th wedding anniversary of Co and Annabelle. Clearly convinced that they had taken the right decision the family installed a second Merlin the following year. After a decade of dedicated and profitable service, the original Merlins were replaced by two later models, a testimony to the performance of their robotic milking operation.
The results speak for themselves. They have achieved a 23% increase in yield, when compared to their earlier parlour, and they are producing 1.3m litres of milk a year from their dairy farm. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, the Van der Horsts have three cows each of which has passed the magical 100,000 litres mark. As Willem put it, “I was hardly out of school when we installed our first Merlin robot and the benefits have been adding up ever since”.