Where they really that good at all? Some decades ago, it was absolutely fine for a dairy farmer to control his or her cows just visually. Some data was more or less regularly collected like for example milk sales and monthly milk recording information. Other information, like sick cows, was safely kept in memory as cows were known individually and in detail. However, a lot of information was lost this way: Patterns of Mastitis, Ketosis or other conditions went unnoticed and there was little, if any, systematic evaluation of reproduction and animal health. Times are different today: Dairy herds have become larger and the information available is much more complex. Moreover, the pressure on the whole dairy sector, both economically and in terms of public perception, has been increasing significantly. Losses caused by disease are less acceptable than before.
The way to produce milk more sustainably is by making good use of data. Every dairy farm produces lots of data every day such as, milk production, reproduction information, animal health and much more! A lot of this data is however not put to good use and is rarely used by farmers, vets or advisors. Numbers do tell a lot and help to produce milk in a more sustainable way! They help to find out what the actual situation is in terms of health and production, where there are weaknesses, where money is lost and also help identify potential. Good use of data is the basis for planning: Replacement management and breeding strategy are such examples.
In order to achieve a meaningful database on a dairy farm, the producer must consciously build and maintain it. In addition to automatically producing information from milk recording, milking robots or other sources, it is pivotal to record every “event” in the herd: Health issues and treatments; inseminations and pregnancies; feeding regimes and management changes – Every detail is valuable as it will give important information about the farm when aggregated and evaluated. The tools are there and need to be used more intensively.
But why this hassle? In the proper technical surrounding, this information will show you trends and facts and help you recognize things you probably didn’t know about your farm in the first place. There is hardly a system as complex as a dairy farm! The dairy farm can be managed more efficiently using all the information readily available. This information should be shared with your trusted advisors like your veterinarian and look out for tools making it even more usable – there is a lot out there! Even “prediction” of disease is now possible. You heard it right, data allows us to predict the future by foreseeing trends in herd production and delivering health alarms well before an animal actually gets sick!
Data is dairy is the road towards a sustainable more profitable dairy future!