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Taking Advantage of Technology

February 24, 2014
 
 

Mark Rodgers

Mark Rodgers
Dearing, Ga.

Hillcrest Farms is home to four generations of the Rodgers family, plus 420 milking cows and 470 heifers.

 
 


At Hillcrest Farms, we have strived to incorporate technology into our program to reduce labor, increase production and help us make more informed decisions. In the last five years, we have seen more advances in information technology on our farm than in the previous 50 years.

The milk meters and milk processing centers located on the rear of the milking stalls allow the milkers to be warned if the cow is in the wrong group, is treated or is off milk. It does all of this while relaying the same information to the dairy office computer. This helps the management team monitor milking performance in the parlor, including parlor procedures, milking protocols and cow performance.

My consultants use PC Dart, Alpro and feed ration data through Team Viewer software to look at current information from our herd. This has allowed us to have a better management team involved in the day-to-day decision-making process.

This has been a huge asset to our farm because it allows consultants access to our records without always requiring me to be logged on at the same time. Troubleshooting software issues has become much easier as well. To interface between Alpro and PC Dart, we use multiple monitors, comparing data between the two programs at the same time.

Adding activity monitoring to the existing Alpro system has improved our reproduction program dramatically. Activity monitoring reduces time spent watching for heats and locates low-activity cows that could have metabolic issues. It helps us breed cows based on the start of high activity. Since adding this technology, our conception and pregnancy rates have improved significantly.

All of the employees on the farm use their smartphones to record cow numbers when they see them in heat or when they need attention. I also check cow information on my phone using the PC Dart for Android App.

Other applications I use daily are: the Weather Channel radar, Breeding Calculator and my Calendar to keep up with daily appointments. Text messaging has decreased my time on the phone with feed brokers waiting on bids on commodities. The camera app has been useful in getting the correct part needed by sending a picture to the vendor when equipment fails.

My daughter, Caitlin, and I also use our smartphones to promote dairy by sharing Hillcrest Farms through social media. We post pictures and videos from around the farm to our Facebook page. We think it is important to show how our family farms produce a high-quality product using the latest technology available and providing the best environment for our cows and employees.

Rodgers’ recent prices

Milk
$23.58 (3.8 bf, 3.1 prt)

Cull cows
$102/cwt.

Springing heifers
$1,800-$2,200/head

Whole cottonseed
$255/ton

Ground corn
$224/ton

Soybean meal
$549/ton
 

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RELATED TOPICS: Dairy, Technology, Dollars & Sense

 
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