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Check Out My ... Robots and racing stripes

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 11 June 2014

steve derksen

Steve Derksen has some high-performance hobbies, and he has brought aspects from the racetrack to the farm.



Last October, the dairyman from Chilliwack, British Columbia, upgraded from an outdated double-four milking parlor to a brand new robotic system.

He made the move to reduce the need for manpower and add flexibility to his routine, thus allowing him and his wife, Gail, to participate in their sons’ activities,

derksen barn

Logan, 16 and Rhys, 14. This project included building a new facility to house his 60-cow milking herd and one automated milking system unit.

Derksen has an eye for detail and visual appeal. However, it’s not just his muscle cars and motocross bikes that match; his robot barn is also color-coordinated.


derksen barn

“I always liked how guys do racing stripes on their shop walls,” says the dairyman. “The idea was to do it in the barn, too.”

Having chosen a Lely AMS, Derksen wanted red accents in his new barn. It was a fitting choice, as red is also the color of his favorite racing bikes. He had the interior walls painted white, then laid a red “racing stripe” around the entire barn. “That got the spark going,” he adds.

cow drinking water

As he planned out the barn, he inquired about the availability of other items in red. Through a few phone calls to dealers and manufacturers, Derksen was able to order red waterers, alley scraper covers, a cow brush, hosing and grating.

With the swipe of a paintbrush, pipes and hydrants were red, too. He also tapped into his wife’s interior design skills to coordinate the walls, trim and décor of the office area.


derksen barn

The color-matching details make the facility a showplace.

“When you walk into the barn, it is bright, colorful and neat,” he says.

derksen barn

Yet it is functional, too. “The cow comfort is what speaks to me,” Derksen says, noting an increase from 70 pounds of milk per cow per day to nearly 80 pounds. He attributes this improvement to the design of the AMS, as well as the waterbeds in the stalls.

“I think the system we have here works very well,” he adds. PD

Do you have a great structure or building on your dairy? If so, we want to check it out! It could be your calf barn, shop, office – any area on your dairy that you have designed to be your ideal space.

Send us a picture with a brief description, and we may choose you to be in the next quarterly issue of Progressive Dairyman . Please submit by email .

peggy coffeen

Peggy Coffeen
Progressive Dairyman