Is there anything our smartphones can’t do? OK, so they don’t actually milk the cows. Yet. But here are two new apps that enable our handheld devices to get the job done.
The first app comes from Canadian farm innovation company Dairy Quality Inc. It’s a new app and adaptor kit called the Milk Guardian Kit, which works with your iPhone to give you a somatic cell count on your milk in seconds. Testing is done right at the cow, and results are delivered to the phone in seconds rather than the weeks it often takes to get lab results. This way of testing allows a dairy farmer to remove a sick cow immediately — all at a fraction of the cost of regular testing, Dairy Quality notes.
The company will debut the Milk Guardian Kit at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., next week. For more information, visit www.dairyquality.com.
The second app, which comes from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, helps dairy farmers track feed costs and income on the go. The DairyCents app, currently available on the iPhone, helps farmers estimate income-feed ratio for each cow and compares feed prices in several locations throughout the country.
Another function compares feed prices in several locations across the country.
“Farmers are doers, they enjoy the physical work aspect of farming, but not always the financial side of the operations,” said Virginia Ishler, nutrient management specialist and dairy complex manager in animal science. “We hope this app makes this part a little easier.”
To use the income-over-feed-cost function, farmers need to enter only a few pieces of information to help estimate the income a cow can produce compared to the cost of the feed, according to Ishler. They can enter the date, their zip code and estimated level of milk production. Farmers can select estimated production levels based on three settings: 65, 75 and 85 pounds.
The team is planning a second round of development to make the app available on Android and other platforms.
USDA’s Risk Management Agency supported this work.