We wax poetic about dairy farming – it’s among the most iconic images of life in North America. But let’s not kid ourselves: it is a business. Complex. Unlike other businesses, it’s a 24-hour-a-day exercise in precision and intelligence. Technology solutions have become commonplace to help identify and control those variables, but the “intelligence” from these solutions is often not able to drive a corresponding reaction until hours or days later. And the person collecting the data often has to interpret the data on their own by comparing numerous different spreadsheets.
Giving a dairy farmer more data doesn’t help them. Giving them intelligence about their business that results from interpreting the data and turning it into actionable information does.
Software providers like Valley Agricultural Software (VAS) are taking formerly desktop-based, single-application solutions and providing business-wide platforms that provide real-time access to web-based intelligence via mobile devices, tablets and computers. These programs tie together all the variables that go into milk production in a single platform – from the feed to the cow to the parlor – providing actionable intelligence that allows today’s dairy farmer to make decisions when it will have the greatest impact on production: Now.
“Business-wide platform” sounds intensive — but it actually requires no additional technical infrastructure to be installed on premises. All data collection and computing power is managed, securely, via the web. As an example: dairies that currently use VAS products such as DairyComp 305, FeedWatch and ParlorWatch will be able to do their job exactly as they’ve always done it — the only thing that changes is where and how they can access their information: everywhere with an internet or cellular connection.
The web-based access — via any web-enabled device and on all mobile platforms (iOS, Android) — drives three distinct advantages:
• Access to business intelligence from anywhere within the operation. Data is no longer limited to the one computer in the back office or back at the house.
• Greater reporting and interpretation of data — all in one program. The ability to combine the three pillars of the dairy (cow, feed, parlor) into a single web-based platform allows for more intuitive and beneficial reporting not capable with individual products.
• A common interface. Most dairies today are used to running numerous different software applications for different phases of the milk producing process — often featuring completely different user experiences and interfaces. Incorporating all of these into a common platform ensures ease of use and training.
NOTE: Customers who prefer to use legacy VAS products as they have always done, as a desktop-based system, will be able to do so – the new platform will not retroactively affect current products.
Understanding the Local Ecosystem
The opportunity for real-time data access throughout the dairy stands to drive improvements at every level of the operation.
Upwards of 60 percent of the cost of producing milk resides in feed. The supply, the mix, the labor. And, depending on the dairy, feeder compensation may be dependent in-part on their performance each day. Real-time access to feed data via mobile devices can drive a number of efficiencies in the feeding process, and encourage better performance by the labor on hand to drive down operational costs
o Immediately view reports on their phone regarding feeding errors, quantities, etc. versus waiting to receive an emailed report. This helps ensure more timely corrections/adjustments.
o Monitor inventories and mixes, and make adjustments earlier in the process to avoid errors and inefficient mixes.
o More quickly compare factors such as feed cost, feed mix and milk output (by pulling in data from the parlor side), and adjust mix earlier in the process to have a more immediate affect on outputs and ultimate profitability.
The individual cow is the most tracked asset on a dairy, from health and reproductive data to lactation and milk production. It’s often the most mature set of data available. The power of a web-based platform with both mobile and remote accessibility amplifies that considerably:
o Multi-site operators can pull in animal information through a single interface, no matter where they are — eliminating the need for travel from site to site.
o Leverage cow data during the milking process to pull out and treat individual cows as they come through the milking parlor instead of segregating entire pens – ultimately saving time and labor.
o Share access with veterinarian partners to have instant access/visibility to animal health.
The business end of the dairy — the parlor is the ultimate output of every decision and action that has come before, and the bellwether of total profitability. A web-based platform can provide:;
o Real-time access to milk weights, rolling averages and deviations, bulk tank totals, etc.
o Immediate understanding and review of employee performance as it relates to milking times, cows per hour, time per cow, etc. — all information that can help coach employees in better performance — ultimately driving greater labor performance/efficiency.
o Quality control of both the milking and cleaning processes: ensuring that all equipment is at proper temperatures; that cleaning equipment is working properly and that cleaning processes have taken place as scheduled/intended.
o API integration with dairy buyers/testers for greater understanding of quality and output.
The Evolution of the Dairy… At the Heart of Your Dairy
The transformation of dairy intelligence from desktop-based computers to a web-based platform capable of being accessed by any web-enabled device has major implications for the industry. Dashboarding, multi-site comparison/compilation and API development for integration with other business partners are all possible with the foundation offered by this technological evolution. For more information, and to demo the next technological advances from VAS, email Sue Hart or visit the all-new VAS.com.