Take a page from consumer technology buying savvy when purchasing new technology for your dairy or farming operation, recommends Jeff Bewley, University of Kentucky Extension dairy specialist.
After all, you’re making a huge operational investment, sometimes costing up to six figures. You should demand answers to the following questions before you sign the purchase agreement.
1. What are the rates of false positives (sensitivity) and false negatives (specificity) of the condition of interest? In other words, if an activity monitor indicates a cow is in heat, what percent of the time is the cow truly in heat? And what percent of cows might be missed?
2. What percent of devices fail per year?
3. What is the warranty on the product?
4. What is the upgrade policy? How much will it
cost to upgrade?
5. What is the full cost of the product, including hardware, software, devices, maintenance and data storage?
6. Will the company provide a list of existing users you can talk with?
“Service is key,” Bewley says, “and can be more important than the gadget itself.”
If your activity monitoring and heat detection equipment is struck by lightning, for example, you need immediate help in getting it restored. Waiting for parts or new devices can leave your breeding program in shambles.
Bewley and his colleagues have developed a dashboard analysis tool that allows users to compare up to three different heat detection technologies.
It calculates net present value of each device along with number of years to breakeven.