Gilmer Farms in Pleasant Valley celebrated robotic milking and four generations of farming yesterday

Seen in image above: one of the four Lely Astronaut robotic milking systems running at Gilmer Farms. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News

PLEASANT VALLEY — Four generations of farming and new technology were celebrated yesterday at the Gilmer Farm Open House.

Seen in image above: The venue was set up to host many friends, family, neighbours, and fellow farmers yesterday at Gilmer Farms. They also hosted the annual Dundas County Twilight meeting later in the evening. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

After immigrating to Canada in 1832 the John Gilmer and his family spent seven years in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and then moved to Pleasant Valley in 1840.

The farm consisted of a mere 4 oxen on 100 acres of land they acquired from the British Empire.

By the late 1800s the second generation of Gilmers helped the farm grow by adding livestock and focusing on milk production.

John’s son Dwight joined the farm at 20-years-of-age.

The cattle count was increased from 25 to 45 between the 1960s and 70s when the farm’s existence relied entirely on milk production.

Seen in image above: Happy cows make more milk, more milk means happy farmers! Sand was brought into Gilmer Farms as bedding in 1998. Sand bedding is thought to be more comfortable for cows and is especially good for those who are lactating. A decrease of mastitis is usually seen when cows are more comfortable, which in turn means better milk production. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

In the mid-1980s Dwight’s eldest son Richard became part of the farm in the late 1960s while his youngest son, Reg, joined the farm in the mid-1980s.

Richard said, “I am 72-years-old and soon-to-be retired.” But assured that his brother Reg is still very much a part of the farm’s continuing success.

Many things have changed since the farm first started back in the mid-1800s.

“We had the parlour installed in 1998,” Richard explained.

Technology went robotic at the farm in 2016, a modern free-stall barn was built and cash crop production increased immensely.

Seen in image above: An overview shot of two robot milkers (one directly behind the other). Smith photo, Nation Valley News

“On January 16 of this year we grew to four robots … mainly due to labour,” said Richard.

“It takes us 10 to 12 hours less per day,” Gilmer added.

Seen in image above: Operations and cows are watched carefully through 24 cameras throughout the farm and can be viewed in real time. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

The family’s herd and acreage have now grown from four oxen in 1840 and 100 acres to 211 cows and 1000 cropping acres.  

According to a timeline banner that was displayed at the open house, “ The farm, now in operation for over a century, has always strived to stay up-to-date with the most current practices. Efficiency and productivity have always been goals. Producing the highest quality product as efficiently as possible has served this farm well and the community around it.”

Seen in image above: The next generation of Gilmer dairy. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

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