With their farm located in the fifth most populated county in Illinois and houses encroaching from all sides, the Lenkaitis family of St. Charles recently decided to modernize their operation within their farm’s already established footprint.
Albert and Mary Etta Lenkaitis started Lenkaitis Holsteins in 1983 with just five animals. Today, the farm consists of 130 Registered Holsteins and is enjoyed by three generations of the Lenkaitis family. For the last 25 years, they have focused on developing Red & White genetics with balanced type and production.
Starting in 2014, Andy and his wife Sarah, took over management and daily operations of the farm. To prepare for the move to the new facility, Sarah explained that they started to focus their acquisitions and mating selections on cows with good teat size and placement and udder depth for automated milking.
In spring 2017, construction began on the new robotic milking facility and freestall barn. “We faced a unique set of challenges with citing our new facility because we live within an incorporated village and in close proximity to residential housing. As a result, we had to be cognizant of the distance to houses across the road, traffic patterns and potential for noise, odor and light disturbance to our neighbors.”
The new three-row barn features under the barn manure storage and a GEA Xpress manure separation system to bed the 104-stall barn with separated manure solids over rubber mattresses. The barn also features a GEA CowCleaner Duo cow brush and two GEA Monobox robotic milkers. “Cow comfort was a main focus in the new barn,” noted Andy, “cows never touch concrete and there are rubber mattresses in the stalls and rubber matting in the alleys.” They also have an GEA FROne auto feeder that pushes feed 8x daily, and GEA alley scrapers that clean 6x daily.
The first robotic milking took place on January 30, 2018. Today, they are milking 63 cows with a herd average of 70 lbs.
Andy and Sarah started the Andara prefix when they were married in 2011 and have purchased numerous Red & White and polled animals to expand the herd. During the herd’s last classification, they added two new Excellent 3-yr-olds and several new VGs. There are 12 EX and 28 VG cows in the herd today. To learn more about the animals they are working with, visit their Facebook page HERE!
The farm was a part of the National Red & White Convention Farm Tours held on June 21. Later that evening, Mary Etta was honored with the Gary Mayhew Keystone Award, which recognized her involvement and support of RWDCA over the years.