Data king in managing herd

26 Sep, 2018 04:00 AM
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Ken Ravenhill and his daughter Georgina access herd information in the paddock.
I can access the data on my phone even if there is no phone signal ...
Ken Ravenhill and his daughter Georgina access herd information in the paddock.

When it comes to managing the herd, data is king.

So when a mobile phone app comes along that gives a farmer instant in-paddock access to all of their herd data - including individual cow records - it has to be worth a look.

Holstein breeder Ken Ravenhill is one of hundreds of Australian farmers to benefit from DataGene's HerdData app since it was launched last year.

With 1200 milkers on his farm near Albany in Western Australia, the app has been a game changer for Mr Ravenhill's herd-management practices.

"It's great. If I'm in the calf pens or out in the paddock and I want to look up an animal I can pull out my phone and look up an animal's pedigree, Balanced Performance Index or Australian Selection Index," he said.

"I can check when a cow is coming into season, when a cow was last mated and when she is due to calve so I can identify cows for lead feeding."

In addition to linking with data on the EasyDairy program on Mr Ravenhill's home computer, the app synchronises with the DataGene and Farm West databases.

It replaces the old system of tattered notepads, laptop computers and hardcopy printouts.

"It means we have a massive amount of records on cows including herd test data, herd health records, calving and breeding records," Mr Ravenhill said.

Mr Ravenhill is currently using HerdData to retrieve information such as cow IDs, cow status, sire and dam details on his phone. The app also allows him to view a range of records including herd test data and performance graphs.

"I can access the data on my phone even if there is no phone signal - and I probably access the app two to three times a day to look up information," he said.

"I can also look up a cow's production and cell count and where she sits in the herd when it comes to making a decision on which cows to cull."

He can also use his mobile phone to enter calving dates, AI dates and sires, heat detections, dry-off dates, pregnancy test results, sales, culls, health events and treatments.

This can all be done from anywhere on the farm and herd records entered during the day then synchronise with the office computer to ensure no records were lost, even if the phone is lost or broken.

The HerdData app was developed by DataGene -- an initiative of Dairy Australia and the Australian herd-recording sector, with the assistance of participating herd testing centres.

Download the HerdData app on Google Play and iOs App Stores.

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