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Elsinger farm dropped to 76k SCC with Cattle Care

March 11, 2024
4 min
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Today, we are excited to share with you the interview of our CEO Artem Timanov and Brenda Elsinger, the owner of Elsinger Dairy Farm and Cattle Care customer for the past two years. Brenda has shared her valuable experience with our product, starting with the launch process up to the present outcome.

Artem: Brenda, you are the owner and you are the manager of the dairy, is that correct? 

Brenda: We have three partners: my husband - he's in charge of the crops, my son does the feeding,  the young stock,  the maintenance, and crops also, and then I take care of the dairy and the employees.

Artem: Could you please share what first caught your attention about our product and how you discovered it?

Brenda: We sell our milk to Grande Cheese that is very proactive in the dairy industry. They're always trying to be ahead of the curve to bring in ideas to what their producers should be doing as far as taking care of the cattle. This is where the farm program helps Grande. As an illustration, the message their pizzerias convey is: “We're doing as much as we can on our farms. We've got our animals taken care of, we are doing everything we possibly can.

The majority of my employees that are under me at the dairy are Hispanic, they're amazing people. They're far from their families. I'm their mother, their kids' grandmothers. I would do anything for my employees but I need that respect back in return,. If there's somebody that's not following my lead, they need to leave immediately. So, this prompts me to keep pushing forward because I give 110% to my employees.

We start using Cattle Care, and wow, what a rude awakening. When I first started watching what was going on with my animals, it really pushed me over the edge. I had to let go of half of my staff because of it. To me, that was the first thing that I wanted to accomplish, because I knew there was an issue. You may have some awareness of what’s going on but you've got to see it firsthand (editor’s note: Brenda is referencing animal welfare issues that were discovered through a dedicated feature of our product).

I laid down the ground rules stating that if something goes on, the video recording will be played during our employee meetings in front of everybody. The first time I played the footage, people were shocked, particularly those on the night shift. 

Usually Sunday is my day to sit down and watch four or five days in the system or even sometimes up to a week. I also get immediate alert about any severe animal welfare issue. Some of them appear to be absolutely normal, and I message the Cattle Care team for them to take that into account. Or, for example, we had an issue with the first lactation heifer that we were notified about, which was a useful training bit of a help for me. 

I’m very transparent on what we are doing here, my veterinarian from Grande Cheese has access to the system. People say to me that my cows are very calm, and that is because of the system and the retraining I did.

Cattle Care Individual Employee Card

Artem: Could you please elaborate further on the specific steps you take when you receive an alert related to an animal welfare issue?

Brenda: First, we discuss the incident with the person in the video, along with my herdsman. For example, one of the guys tried to justify their actions saying that the other guy he was milking with didn't help him, which we could see in the video where that person was standing in the corner on his phone instead of working. We talked to the other guy as well and switched their positions, and there was no reason for him to be back on his phone again It was just a matter of flipping the two guys and that seems to have helped a lot.

Artem: Typically, you watch the videos or review the report in our product, and then you take certain actions, is that right?

Brenda: Yes, I'm the only one that has access, apart from Grande, but I'm the one that does all the work with it. 

Artem: How did you find the process of initial setup integration? 

Brenda: I don’t recall having any issues with any of it, the team walked us through it. We put a new camera system since ours was outdated, and our IT specialist, along with your team, installed the entire system.

Artem: Could you share moments when our product went beyond what you expected ?

Brenda: With protocols, for example, I can see on the reports when milkers are not following the four hand movements. Additionally, we're now getting specific cards for each employee, however I'm not using it just as a way to point out mistakes. For example, during the night shift, it showed up that a person was dancing. At the end of our team meeting one day, I said: "Okay, guys, I'm going to show you this." I played that form on the computer. The two guys were dancing away in this video, and the whole room just roared. It was hilarious!

There are so many ways of interpreting the information but I always try to start with good first and then move into bad. We have a WhatsApp group with our whole milking crew to discuss it.

If I want really good prep, excellent milk letdown, there's a process. If that process isn't followed, the cows don't get through the parlor. If you can see they've stepped out of the parlor too often or they're on the phone or talking too much, I'll snap that and say: "Hey, guys, let's refocus here. Cows aren't getting through the parlor, and this is why."

The night shift will have a spike where they're not doing what they're supposed to, as far as staying in the parlor. I have a conversation, boom, backed out. It's like a roller coaster. Then we start with the roller coaster going back up again. So it depends on the shift, depends on what I have to stress more than not stress.

I give your program a lot of credit for what we have done on the farm. We're sitting at 110 energy corrected milk with a 67 cell count. We always had cameras and employees knew I was watching them, but now somebody else is watching them because they know how busy I am. So I contribute a lot of it to your program.

Brenda Elsinger

Artem: How many cameras do you have in your milking parlor?

Brenda: I've got six cameras, two cameras on the feed alleys and a camera in each of the big pens that rotate because I do want to know what’s going on. Cattle Care helped me so much along the way. I'm promoting it to other people, saying, "Hey, you guys don't know what's going on in your farm until you put this in."

Artem: Brenda, when you started, were you concerned about how milkers would feel about it? Did you worry that it might be a breach of trust, or something along those lines? 

Brenda: Absolutely. That was one of my first worries with my employees. I was very upfront with my interpreter from Grande on my monthly meeting with them. I just told them: “I've got the camera system and you know I'm watching you. But we're going to start having somebody help us watch you." And I explained it to them: "This isn't to be negative. This can also be positive."

One of the milkers quit after being with me for 10 years. His reason for quitting wasn't related to the cameras; he left because he knew he wasn't following protocol and he couldn't compete with other guys. 

Then, I wanted something different for my farm based on what I observed thanks to Cattle Care so I ended up bringing four interns from the University of San Morano in Mexico City, and it actually turned out really well.

Artem: Thank you, Brenda, we appreciate a lot your positive feedback! What was your experience with our customer support team?

Brenda: They were outstanding. We had many different discussions, usually weekly or, at the beginning, more than weekly. If I had a question, I could get ahold of them. I was very happy. 

Artem: Did you notice any specific correlations between your actions using our product and high-level metrics of your dairy, such as somatic cell count and energy-corrected milk?

Brenda: Definitely! The calmness of our cattle, the way they come into the parlor. Cows seem very happy, chewing their cud, and not bouncing around. It's because of your product that we could train our employees based on what we were seeing to create such a calm environment in our parlor. Manuals, reattaches, and no attaches – everything your product brings helps us maintain low cell counts. 

For the last four years, we've been consistently under 100 count edge of the year. We've received an award from Grande every year. Last year, we had two months that jumped over a hundred by two points but we still got the average of a hundred. 

This year, we're going for the gold. We need under 80 cell count to stay in the top 10% of Grande Cheese. We hit 76 SCC, which makes us number 15, and we’re at 63 SCC right now. I attribute a lot of it to the Cattle Care system.

Cattle Care is thrilled to be a part of the success achieved at Elsinger. We express our gratitude to Brenda Elsinger for generously providing her time for the interview and sharing her valuable opinions about our company. The feedback from our customers is incredibly important to us, as it enables us to ensure that we meet their needs. We are committed to continuous improvement, and the support and experiences shared by farmers like Brenda play a vital role in our ongoing development. By the end of 2023, Cattle Care garnered over 80 customers in the United States. Our steadfast commitment is to enhance the well-being of your cows in your milking parlors, resulting in increasingly high quality and delicious milk.

Want to know what Cattle Care offers? Just fill out the form and book our free demo to discover what Cattle Care can do for your operation.

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