It’s 6:30 a.m. on a damp and foggy Minnesota morning. At Riverview production isn’t just beginning — it’s in full swing. Today, Jeff Boyle, one of the company’s most knowledgeable operations-side specialists, is showing us around Riverview’s West River location, one of several facilities that make up the company. It’s home to thousands of Holsteins.
When asked about the location’s unique smell — a concoction that’s equal parts earthy and sweet — Boyle just smiles. “That’s the smell of money,” he half-jokingly says. He explains that the scent comes from the mountains of silage Riverview requires to feed its herd of always-hungry dairy cows. Boyle estimates that there is approximately 80,000 tons of silage sitting on this site alone.
The best machine for the application
The two constants of Boyle’s ever-expanding role are finding new ways of reducing operating costs and boosting productivity. And chief among his many responsibilities is managing Riverview’s mixed fleet of equipment. He doesn’t claim any brand allegiance. His approach to assembling a fleet is simple — the best machine for the application. And when it comes to moving, raking, mixing, and loading mass amounts of silage all day, every day, his choice is the John Deere 624K High-Lift Loader.
“We have about fifty 624Ks in our fleet. The 624K High-Lift, in particular, gives us the extra height we need to efficiently load feed into our mixer trucks,” says Boyle. “It’s also a very stable machine when handling heavy loads up-high.”
Before trying the 624K, Boyle was indifferent to the machine’s operator-centric features. But after experiencing them firsthand, he quickly realized their potential value to Riverview’s unique applications.
Riverview gets more value from its 624Ks by utilizing the wide array of attachments available for them — light-material buckets for moving feed, rakes for facing the silage piles, pallet forks for unloading trucks, bale spears for stacking straw bales, a snow blade for pushing snow, and a rubber-tire scraper for cleaning the grounds. The Riverview crew even designed and built its own attachment, an “unroller,” that simplifies the process of covering its silage piles.
“The 624K is perfect for us,” says Boyle. “It has the size and the volume, and it seems to encompass all of the different areas we work in.”
Dairy, as an industry, is all about details.”
The importance of uptime
“Dairy, as an industry, is all about details,” says Boyle. “If we’re down a loader, our feed schedule gets behind, cows recognize it, and milk production suffers. That’s why uptime is so important.” Riverview has been running Deere equipment for a long time. And the operation has a close relationship with its local John Deere dealer, RDO Equipment. According to Boyle, RDO has been instrumental in making Deere a successful part of the dairy’s operation.
By taking the time to fully under-stand Riverview’s needs, RDO provides the exact type of service and support necessary for the company to effectively manage its fleet.
“In our operation, downtime is not taken lightly,” says Boyle. “All machines break down at some point. But if you start with a good, strong, and reliable machine — like the 624K — and add prompt, knowledgeable dealer service, it’s a recipe for success.”
Boyle also appreciates the availability of his John Deere dealer when training is needed for new operators. “A lot of our guys arrive here with strong backgrounds in the animal science fields but minimal operator experience,” says Boyle. “The 624K is a very forgiving machine that’s easy to learn. And when operators understand how the features work, and why, they’re able to run and care for their machines much better.”