Technology Helps Us Succeed

February 26, 2013 08:01 PM
 

 


Art Schaap

Art Schaap

 

Clovis and Portales, N.M.

The Schaaps manage four dairies, including an organic operation, and milk 5,500 cows. They’re also partners in a cheese factory.

 

  



Technology is a big part of our business as well as the hard work behind it. We use an array of technological gadgets to make our dairy business more successful.

Our EZFeed program is one example. We do biweekly dry matter (DM) ration analysis to adjust DM feed ingredients. We are also working on our DM intake, in which case we are always trying to get our milk-to-feed ratio to 1.5. This hasn’t been reached yet. We can make instant changes to the ration from the office with radio frequency.

Another good example is DairyComp 305. This program allows us to keep track of every single cow based on her lactations and dry periods, as well as data concerning her milk. Each cow is grouped by lactation and pregnancy status.

A Bluetooth wand is used to scan white electronic RFID ear tags to identify each cow, giving the herdsman the information that he needs to make decisions. All data is downloaded to DairyComp’s main office every evening. It’s recoverable if there are any problems.

Smartphones are big hit with us. When an important e-mail is being sent to you but you’re in the parlor taking care of an issue, you can just whip out your smartphone to see it. Along with e-mails, we are able to see what the weather will be like to plan crop activities.

Being able to search Google on the palm of your hand is also very useful. We can access our lab counts and components percentages on the smartphone. We track our somatic cell counts, butterfat and protein numbers, MUN and LPC on a daily basis. With all this information at hand, we can almost see problems coming before the wreck happens.

We have installed a camera system in the parlor as well as in the milk tank room. This way, if we are not there, we can monitor what happens if certain issues arise. Sometimes what you see is not what you want, but that’s part of the dairy business.

We have always wanted to have an Internet presence, and my son is working on making a website for our dairy operation. We want employees to be able to log on to the site so they can view vaccination protocols, worksheets and Key Performance Indicators.

The website will also provide information to members of the public if they have any questions about how our dairy operates. This is still in the making. In summary, you never quit learning and if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Schaap’s most recent prices

Milk
$18.62 (3.70 bf, 3.15 prt)

Cull cows   
$72-$75/cwt.

Springing heifers  
$1,300-$1,500/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)  
$295-$310/ton

Cottonseed  
$350/ton

Rolled milo
$290/ton

Canola meal
$371/ton

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