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Technology changes How We Do Business

February 26, 2013
 
 


Nick Vande Weerd

Nick Vande Weerd

 

Brookings, S.D.

The Vande Weerd family is majority owner and manager of Pleasant Dutch Dairy, which milks 1,400 Holsteins.

 

 


**Extented comments highlighted in blue.

Technology has definitely allowed for better management of our dairy herd. Obviously, we have had our share of failures in technology that have caused disruptions in the dairy, but the benefits of technology to gather and organize data by far exceed the downfalls of technology.

Dairy Comp 305, Parlor Watch 305 and Feed Supervisor are some of the technologies we have incorporated on our dairy. We use Dairy Comp 305 to manage individual animals in the herd. We track all treatments, vaccinations pen movements and reproduction information. We capture individual production data by testing once per month with DHIA. The information we capture allows us to more effectively cull cows, group cows and evaluate the effectiveness of herd protocols.

Dairy Comp 305 does have some limitations. Storage of information for individual cows is limited, and old events must be removed to make room for new events. In addition, there is a slight learning curve to learn how to navigate and retrieve information. The benefits of tracking cow information by far outweigh the shortcoming, however, and Dairy Comp 305 does interface well with our other software programs we use on the farm.

We don’t have individual milk meters, but we have found it to be crucial to track daily production. We found tracking fluctuations in daily production difficult due to directly loading into tankers with varied pick-up times. We installed Parlor Watch 305 to provide us with the ability to track daily pen production. Unfortunately, we do have some human error because our milkers have to push a button when they are done milking each pen to let the program know when a pen has completed milking. That does cause some error. The ability to measure daily pen production has allowed us to compare different rations and feed ingredients, which has been critical when trying to constantly improve income over feed cost.

Another useful program when evaluating income over feed cost has been Feed Supervisor. Feed Supervisor records all of our feeding information. We routinely analyze dry matter intake per pen, mixing errors and percentage of feed removed from the each bunk each day. This program has definitely allowed us to reduce over- and under-feeding. If you have employees doing your feeding, feeding programs make it simple to hold them accountable for feeding errors, which, in turn, makes them better feeders.

Technology has changed how we manage due to the increased amounts of data we harvest from the dairy on a daily basis. We have found that in order to use the data for decision-making purposes, it needs to be organized in an orderly fashion and readily available. All three of the above programs have been incorporated because they organize our data that gets used to improve the dairy operation.

 

Vande Weerd’s most recent prices

Milk

$19.10 (3.8 bf, 3.05 prt)

Cull cows   

$55-$75/cwt.

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