On Farm Performance Management Software

NEW ZEALAND - The volume of information Mathew Weake takes with him each day onto the farm would take a tractor to pull it – were it not for a palm pilot in his top pocket.
calendar icon 17 January 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

“Technology means I carry a comprehensive family tree of my dairy herd in my top pocket – translated into complex, tailored herd reports giving me a performance picture to every cow, as I’m looking at her in the paddock,” Mathew says.

It’s the ability to tailor reports to suit his farming style, which singles Mathew out.

Like more than 90% of New Zealand dairy farmers, Mathew and Sue Weake use LIC’s MINDA animal performance management software to record the ‘usual’ events like calving, matings, treatments – but have embraced the ability to tailor reports to suit their specific needs through MINDApro.

Growth rates of cows

The big picture is important to Waikato dairy farmers Mathew and Sue Weake, particularly when it comes to planning, setting long-term goals and solving large scale management issues.

“I’ve developed customised reports which monitor the correlation between feed quality, live-weight and condition and the effect, if any, those have on conception rates.

“It’s enabled me to look at early and late calvers and anticipate, with a greater degree of certainty, their conception rates – a tight calving pattern being the goal.

“Having those weight graphs also gives me greater certainty about when I dry the cows off, as my goal is to have them go through winter with optimum body score so they calve, and conceive on the first cycle.

“For example, this season I dried off the two year olds earlier to give them more time and am considering milking Once-a-Day next season to reduce weight loss.

In the first year Mathew found a relationship between light skinny two-year-olds and empty rates and that three-year-olds were disproportionately represented in the group of non-cyclers, tending to calve later, with lower body condition score.

“I now target, and achieve, .5kg improvement in body condition score per day.“

“I used the weight information/records to assist with drying off. I dried off the skinny cows to ensure they had sufficient time to regain weight, without having to long a holiday, and gave them Dry Cow treatment.”

This season, for example, Mathew planned CIDRs and other treatments for non-cyclers, made culling decisions, feed management plans and scheduled different dry-off dates for different cow groups.

Growth rates in calves

Mathew weighs his replacement heifers every couple of months so he can measure growth rates and respond if they are failing to reach target weight by goal dates.

“Interestingly what I found was that though there can weight differences between early and late calves, by the time they reach one year their weights level out to about the same.

“I’ve been able to establish realistic expected average weight gains for calves of around .8kg per day, with only minor fluctuations.

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