One man’s dairy barn is another man’s legacy.
During the grand opening of his new dairy facility, Billy Riney, Jr. couldn’t find the right words. He had spoken once, got choked up, and passed off the microphone.
After a few others spoke at the unveiling of his massive, technologically-advanced dairy barn, Riney wanted to say a few more words.
“The most asked question was, ‘How come you want to spend so much money on this facility,’” he said. “I’ve still got 10, maybe 20 more years to milk, and I don’t want to be milking in an old milk parlor.”
He started to mention his song, but he couldn’t get the words out.
Rick Greenwell, the Washington County Ag Extension agent, sensed what Riney was trying to say.
“In about 10 years, I imagine (his sons) will have (their) hands full with this if (they) want it. We’ll see,” Greenwell said.
Riney’s sons, Thomas and John, will have their hands full if they so choose to follow in their father’s footsteps.
The new set-up will allow Riney, who currently has cows being milked 21 hours out of the day, to cut his labor down to six or eight hours a day, he said.
The cows will be able to get in and out quicker, he said.
The ability to keep 150 cows in the holding pen will also help him out. The technology, of course, will help as well.
“These computers will tell you how long the milker is on the cow, how many times she kicks it off, how long it takes to milk her, whether it’s four-and-a-half minutes or eight minutes or 10 minutes,” he said. “It’s going to tell you a whole lot of information about each individual cow.”
The milk will be monitored, he said, allowing him to get a better sense of the health of the herd.
The vacuum suction will be able to be lowered, thus saving a lot of money on electricity, he said.
With the process speeding up, Riney said the longevity of his cow’s lives should be longer, too. Milk production, according to his veterinarian, will increase as well.
“My veterinarian is telling me anywhere from five to eight gallons more milk by getting them out of the milk parlor a lot quicker, where they can eat and lay down and that kind of stuff,” he said.
The new facility drew over 300 visitors over the course of two days, including Father James Stephen Murray, a priest at St. Rose Priory in Springfield. Murray blessed the building, the farm and the Riney family.
Riney said ground work for the new operation began on July 1. The project was nearly completed on Saturday, save for some work on the equipment.
Murray Cox, with the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, was pleased with Riney’s decision to build the parlor.
“We’re tickled to death with the Riney family,” he said. “They see a future in this industry. That’s good in Kentucky.”
Josh Kemp, general manager at Dairy Express, said Riney’s operation is atypical of this part of the state. Most facilities outfitted with as much technology are around the Bowling Green and Glasgow areas. He also said that Riney’s barn is the only one in the state with a vertical lift stall.
Both Kemp and Shawn Mattingly, who built the building that houses the milking technology, acknowledged a special relationship with Riney.
“Before we began, I heard a lot of things about Billy,” Kemp said. ‘I didn’t know Billy. I was told that he could be a demanding guy, and that I had my work cut out for me. I have to say, all of those things are probably true, but the most important thing is is that all throughout this process, Billy has been real good about being a father figure to myself and Duane (Dunn), and allowing us to figure this out as we go.”
“Like Josh said, Billy, he knows what he wants, and as long as you can understand what he wants, everything is good,” Mattingly said. “I appreciate everything that he’s ever done for me. We’ve got a real unusual relationship, but it’s a good relationship. I wish him nothing but luck on this building and it’s been a big step. Hopefully, everything will go the way he chooses.”
It was those relationships that got Riney choked up.
“I’ve been real happy with all the people that’s worked here. They did a good job,” he said, before trailing off and handing over the microphone.
Riney, like Cox, likes what the future may bring.
“It’s changing, yes. We know that,” Cox said. “We look forward to what the future will bring to the dairy industry in Kentucky.”