Dairy Herd Monitoring. what does it mean?
Professionals involved in dairy herd management carry a lot of numbers in their heads, such as feed prices, calf numbers, and milk production per cow. Data is central to dairy management, and we spend a lot of time thinking about it. Dairy herd monitoring is about making it much more efficient to collect all that data and ensure that it works for you.
In the article below, we lay out what we believe should be the central principles of dairy herd monitoring to make your life and business more accessible, not more complicated.
Line up Herd Monitoring with your Goals
You could monitor every aspect of your farm, but that would likely waste time and resources, not to mention be exhausting. Instead, we recommend choosing one to three goals and focusing your dairy herd monitoring around those goals. For example, is your goal to increase milk production? Then focus your monitoring on how much milk your herd is producing. If you’re concerned about nutrition, gather data about feeding. The golden rule is to only devote time to collecting data you can use to improve your farm.
Turn data into action
Data won’t do your dairy farm much good without analysis and action, so it’s essential to plan those steps as part of any monitoring system. First, you need to ensure that your data is saved in a standard, readable way. Hand-written notes are quickly written down across scattered pieces of paper won’t work very well. You want to ensure your data is reliable, readable, and consistent – that way, you can compare information across time. Using recent software, you’ll likely have options to export your data into easy spreadsheets and reports. But you can do the same thing as long as you plan to be consistent. Once you have all your information, you should plan to meet with your management team to review it regularly, then make plans for any changes you want to make.
Use monitoring technology – when it works for you.
Monitoring technology for dairy herds has evolved rapidly over the last decade. With these innovations, monitoring becomes much easier and more affordable. The key is not to fall prey to technology for its own sake but to consider which technologies will be useful to your farm. Consider the upfront cost, any maintenance costs, and the time and money you’ll need to train your staff before purchasing any technology.
On the flip side, think about the time you’ll save over traditional methods and what new information will be available, particularly as that information relates to your goals. Weighing these aspects will help you choose technology that makes sense.
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in training in the latest strategies in dairy herd monitoring, check out our seminars at the Israeli Dairy School. We can help you to develop a monitoring strategy designed for your unique farm and goals. Learn about our herd management seminar for groups: >> press here