Our second article is about Peggy and Ken Wilkes, a husband and wife business duo who knows how to dare. This couple is the fifth generation of Wilkes to work on this Eastern Ontario farm. Their three children are currently pursuing careers off the farm. Peggy and Ken Wilkes have completely changed the way they do things; on May 15, 2017, they moved into their new robotic dairy facility featuring two GEA monobox robots. Why have they made this change? Because they believe that the only way to improve is to adapt to new situations, to change and to dare. Andrew (6th generation) joined his parents two years ago to work on the farm.
For the Wilkes, improvement is their daily motivator. While talking with them, we quickly realized that they want to do things the right way, and love to do so. They are passionate about their work and they do everything they can to improve their daily life and make it easier. When we asked them about why they are constantly looking for improvements, they told us that they obviously make changes to secure their future, but also mainly to improve their day-to-day life. We then asked them if their results (which are more than impressive) also motivated their way of thinking and their need for innovation. They answered that it was partly the case, however, wanting to improve was just plainly obvious to them. After all their results are extremely impressive; they have 74 cows and produce 101 kg (222.67 lb) of quota. Their goal however is to milk 80 cows with a 40 kg (88.19 lb) average. They know that by constantly improving they are able to stay at the top.
“We always have to keep moving forward! When we stop, we fall! If you don’t try, you’ve already failed. So we try!”
It is a wonderful thing that they have good results; after all, the goal of a business is to be cost-effective. Peggy also tells us with humour that it keeps them young.
The Wilkes never feared the use of new technologies on their farm. Instead, they use these technologies in their everyday life and adapt to the situation. Like when they decided to computerize the farm; this represented a significant change for their business.
“It’s important to take daily measurements! This way you can do a better job and you make sure to never miss anything!”
They also added an automatic feed pusher and digitization tools. The computerizing of the farm has changed their lives. ’’It’s amazing!’’, says Ken. By computerizing each cow, they are now able to do a better and faster job. In only fifteen minutes, they manage to make an overview of the data of the farm, giving them the right direction for their action, according to the needs of the farm. These new technologies help them monitor the farm’s performance and improve their quality of life.
They went through these changes with all the apprehensions that go with it. According to Ken, it is perfectly normal! This being said, when in doubt, they have access to resources like their advisor who supports them; he addresses their concerns and helps them to innovate. In the end, it pays off on many levels. After all, there is a reason why they are in the top 15% of the best farm managers.
Service Centre: MacEwen Agricentre Inc.