Jan. 12 2017 11:00 AM

Technology won’t replace good herdsmanship skills, but when used together on farm, great success can result.

Many dairies are becoming more advanced and using the latest technologies available, and we also try and “keep up with the Joneses.” There are so many different technological advances farmers can get their hands on to make their farms and businesses operate more efficiently. In the “dairy world,” just a few examples are activity systems, robotic milking systems, and computer dairy data programs like Dairy Comp, DelPro, and PC Dart. Adding just these few items minimizes time and labor on a day-to-day basis.

Here at Hillcrest, we do not have a robotic milking system (although that has been at the forefront of our minds), but what we do have is a DelPro activity system, a DelPro data computer program, and also PC Dart. Ever since we started to use these systems in sync with one another, data is more readily accessible. This has made our business run more efficiently. We are able to catch cows that need attention a lot faster, whether it be for breeding or other purposes.

Although I have hyped up all the advancements that have helped us in so many ways, I will stress that, while they have been very helpful, we do not use them solely. Yes, I am way more into using my computer and smart phone for work purposes, more than my dad does, but over the years with him as my guide, he has never let me forget the basics. He always carries a pen and paper and never relies solely on the computer-generated data. He has taught us to always walk through our herd with our heads up, looking at the cows. Are they chewing their cud? Are they breathing at a steady, slow pace? How does their manure look? Does that cow look to be coming into heat?

By using our computer data, plus our eyes and ears, we bring the basics together with the advancements of our operation. This helps us to try and not miss anything that is going on within our herd. Technology will miss things, and so will your eyes and ears. But using all of our tools together helps us run a successful business!

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.