July 13 2017 08:00 AM

On-farm technology is a great tool, but it can’t replace the human mind.

Technology has helped improve milk production, reproduction, and made managing cows at our farm easier. Parlor identification, milk meters, and automated activity monitoring are all tied together to give us up-to-date and accurate information on how our cows are performing.

All of this technology is awesome, but at times I have noticed employees becoming less observant because of it. I will see a cow in standing heat with an employee nearby not getting her ID number. I asked “Did you see that cow in heat?” Their reply is, “No” or “I think that is the same cow I saw earlier today.”

I have realized that activity monitoring is great, but it tends to make some people complacent. Just by looking at the cow’s graph on the computer, they may have decided the cow was not in heat and not bred her. On the other hand, if they had written down the cow’s number when she was standing first, then looked at the cow’s activity monitoring, they would have A.I.’d her.

Low and high activity monitoring is a great tool on the farm, but it does not replace good old-fashion observation. Be sure employees are watching cows as they walk by them. Quiz them occasionally on whether they saw cows that looked abnormal, lethargic, or saw cows actively showing heats.

Remember, the best computer on the farm is the human mind. With our mind, we are capable of connecting all of the information from human observation and combining it with the technology we use on the farm everyday.

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.