September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Save time, money, hassle with these technology tips

World Ag Expo's 'Wisdom in Minutes' Dairy Seminar

By by Sadie Frericks- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Six presenters from the dairy industry gave a 10-minute mini-presentation on a technology or tool that has made their work easier.

Remember the milk
Dino Giacomazzi, a dairy manager from Hanford, Calif., shared his experience using Remember the Milk, an online task management tool.
"If you have ADD, like I do, you know that it's hard to keep track of tasks," Giacomazzi said. "In my opinion, Remember the Milk is the best tool for keeping track of tasks."
Remember the Milk is essentially a simple, paperless to-do list. The program works on both computers and smart phones. The program can be customized with different categories and each task can be tagged for future sorting. Tasks can be emailed or text messaged to the program.
Remember the Milk ( is free to use in a desktop browser or on a smartphone. The program charges a $40 annual fee to allow communication between computer and smartphone.
"It's the best $40 I've ever spent," Giacomazzi said. "Before, if I wrote it down on paper, I lost it. Now, I get massive amounts of things done."

Ray Prock, a dairy farmer from Denair, Calif., talked about Evernote, an information management system that he uses to keep projects organized.
Similar to Remember the Milk, Evernote allows users to manage to-do lists, but where the program really shines is in its ability to capture thoughts and keep track of information from various resources, including Web sites, documents and photos.
Information can be categorized into separate notes, and Evernote includes a search feature that will even recognize handwritten words on images. For example, a farmer makes a purchase and jots down what the purchase was for on the receipt. He/she takes a picture of the receipt and stores it in Evernote. Evernote will include the words written on the receipt when a search is conducted.
Evernote is accessible on the Internet and on smartphones. The basic version is free; a premium account is $45 per year.
"One of the Evernote features I like is that each note has its own web address, so I can easily share notes with others," Prock said.

Replacement heifer repro
Improving replacement heifer reproduction was the topic of Dr. John Lee's presentation. Lee is a technical service veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health.
"When it comes to heifer reproduction, a little extra effort provides a lot more return," Lee said.
Lee suggested evaluating a farm's heifer reproduction using three different Dairy Comp 305 reports: 1. Voluntary Waiting Period Compliance. 2. Distribution of first Breedings. 3. Pregnancy Rate. Dairy Comp 305 is a computerized herd management program.
Be sure you're looking at the pregnancy rate for just heifers, Lee said.
"For many herds, the heifer pregnancy rate is lower than the cow herd's," Lee said.

Dairy Comp 305 alternative
Dr. Steve Smalley, a technical service veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health, talked about another way to use Dairy Comp 305.
Dairy Comp can be set up to email lists and reports to any number of people. The reports and lists can then be accessed from smartphones.
"I like the weekly lists. They're a great way to decide, 'What do I need to worry about this week? What do I not need to worry about?'," Smalley said.
He showed several examples. A herdsman might sign up for a list of cows to dry off, while the herd's veterinarian might sign up for a report of the week's calving activity.

Reducing feed shrink
Doug Degroff spoke about methods for reducing feed shrink. Degroff owns the nutrition consulting company Diversified Dairy Solutions.
Degroff showed several examples of feed shrink (loss) on dairy farms and illustrated the economic impact of feed shrink.
He then offered several ideas for better feed management.
First, don't underestimate the value of an on-farm scale. Second, programs like WeighRite and Feed Watch (both from Valley Ag Software) can help track feed inventories. Third, a Koster tester can help farmers harvest forage at the correct moisture level.

Colostrum quality
Dr. Liz Adams addressed the topic of colostrum quality during her presentation. Adams is a veterinarian for three Jersey dairies in Hilmar, Calif.
Adams shared three tools she uses to ensure calves are getting clean, high quality colostrum - a Brix refractometer, potassium sorbate, and on-farm culturing.
Brix refractometers, both optical and digital, are more reliable and accurate than colostrometers for determining colostrum quality. Optical refractometers can be purchased for around $100; digital models cost $400.
On the refractometer's scale of 0 to 32 percent, a score of 22 percent or higher is the goal for quality colostrum.
Adams uses the preservative potassium sorbate to prevent bacterial growth in stored colostrum. She recommends adding the preservative immediately after harvesting and again after pasteurization. Potassium sorbate is available in both powdered and liquid forms. Usage rates vary depending on form used; Adams recommended visiting for more information.
On-farm culturing gives Adams a way to evaluate each farm's colostrum management.
"If very few bacteria colonies show up from a sample of as-fed colostrum, I know everyone's doing their job," Adams said. "If there are too many colonies for me to count, then I know I need to go back and check harvesting and storage."
Adams cultures samples of colostrum from three different stages: immediately after harvest, during storage, and as it's fed to the calf. On-farm culturing requires an incubator, blood agar plates and cotton swabs.
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