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Technology’s Tools: Fast, Efficient and Fun

February 24, 2014
 
 


Julie Maurer

Julie Maurer

Newton, Wis.

Family owned and operated, Soaring Eagle Dairy milks 1,100 cows and grows the majority of the herd’s feed on 1,800 acres.

 


From a technology standpoint, DairyComp 305 and the collection of parlor performance is probably the single most important tool on our dairy.

Having individual milk weights for each cow allows us to attend to cows as soon as they need attention. Each day, we run a report showing any cow that is down 20% or more in milk production. Each of those cows is checked out. Most of the time the cow is just going through a heat cycle or perhaps was not milked out properly, but if she is truly sick, she is sorted and treated.

We have several cameras on the dairy collecting video. These serve as our extra eyes when we are not on the farm and are very helpful as a training and evaluation tool. On the occasion that a calf is born dead, we review the film and try to determine if the situation could have been handled differently and resulted in a different outcome or if it simply was an unfortunate but inevitable event.

Smartphones provide efficiency and real-time data for us. In addition to having email and the "World Wide Web" at our fingertips, there are few other tools we use. When coming across something that is amiss at the dairy, I will often take a picture of it, send to a printer and post the photo with a note on how the image is either unacceptable or can be improved. I like that this allows for continuous coaching and feedback.

I will also use my smartphone to arrange work crews by text message. I have "groups" set up in my contacts for rock pickers, truck drivers, etc. When we are assembling a work crew, I will text the appropriate group and then follow up with a confirming text. Much faster and more efficient than calling a dozen people or so to arrange a crew!

From a "fun" standpoint, I use my smartphone to take pictures of what’s happening on the farm and post to our Facebook page. It’s important to connect to as many people as possible as food producers and this is a fun and effective way to do just that.

Finally, the shop guys are really embracing technology for the cropping enterprise. They use auto steer in our planting and hay-cutting operations, thereby reducing overlap and improving efficiency and reducing fuel consumption.

We also use a Raven sprayer controller, which adjusts rate of chemical application based on speed traveled to ensure we are applying all chemicals and nutrients at the proper rate. A Precision Planting program is used to ensure optimal spacing and reports when we are planting doubles and skips. This information has allowed us to determine what type of seed works best in our planter.

Maurer’s recent prices

Milk

$21.06 (3.35 bf, 3.09 prt)

Cull cows

$77-$88/cwt.

Springing heifers

$1,700+/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)

$290/ton

Cottonseed

$395/ton

Ground corn

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Technology, Dollars & Sense

 
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