Feb. 13 2013 07:48 AM

Dairy management programs offered at no cost.

Victor CabreraNo dairy herd is a cookie cutter of the next. Each have their own unique set of fixed costs, feed options and management criteria. Fortunately, there is software available that can be customized to each dairy – and they're free!

Victor Cabrera, University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented "New dairy software tools and they're free" webinar on Monday, February 11. He focused on three of the 40 dairy management programs available on the University of Wisconsin Extension website, under Management Tools.

Those who enjoy fine tuning their herd will really become entrenched in a program that factors the cows' profitability when using reproductive programs. This customizable software is called UW-DairyRepro$Plus. Using the software and adjusting herd goals showed significant net profit opportunities by managing factors such as days in milk to first breeding. A new feature includes incorporating activity monitoring data in the calculations. While not just giving results of proposed changes, the software displays current statistics and then shows the financial benefits to the potential adjustments. And as you alter the scenarios, you can watch the financial results change and determine which you want to implement in your herd.

The second software option was FeedVal 2012. Is a particular feed a good buy? Dairy producers or nutritionists can enter feed test results and current prices to help evaluate ration formulas and least-cost rations. It also provides opportunities to see if a feed ingredient is worth its cost based on the nutrients it provides. The report will give a "good buy," "okay" or "overpriced" on each potential ingredient. The program is updated regularly with feed prices, which saves producers time in searching for pricing data. However, each cost can be overridden with different pricing if regional differences exist.

The final program was "economic value of a dairy cow." Should a cow stay in the herd or should she be culled? Is a replacement going to be more profitable? Again, dairy producers enter data from their own herd (even uploading testing reports). Customizable options accounting for the genetic improvement, herd levels and future goals determine the most profitable individuals to keep.

The programs are not available as a stand-alone or on DVD. They are only available through the website. This is helpful to producers because current feed prices are always available. In addition, when users have comments or suggestions for improvement, they can easily share feedback to the program administrators. Cabrera shared that some of the enhancements to the program were a direct result of user interaction.

While the majority of the webinar attendees were not frequent visitors to the UW website, it demonstrated the tremendous potential it offered to those unfamiliar with its free tools.

The webinar will be posted later this week for those that missed the live presentation and even for those who attended, but want to review the material Victor Cabrera covered.

If you'd like to learn more about our webinars or technology follow the links.