Joe Shockey doesn't consider himself to be technology savvy, so when he was asked to test out the features of a new dairy-specific mobile phone application, he was hesitant.
“I had a lot of reservations in the beginning,” says Shockey, a dairy farmer and veterinarian in Ravenswood, W.Va. One of which was “Do I really need a smartphone?”
Now, a year later, he can’t stop saying good things about the “app” and how he uses it on the dairy he operates with his father.
“It’s mainly a time-saving application,” he says. “It’s like having a computer in your pocket. There’s just so much information that’s available at your fingertips.”
Even if you don’t use mobile apps, you probably have heard of the popular game app “Angry Birds.” Well, apps are not just for the birds anymore. They are changing the way dairy producers do business, too. Here is a look at some of the ways that you can use mobile apps for herd- and business-management purposes.
Retrieve information cow-side
Shockey uses PocketDairy, an Android-based app from Dairy Records Management Systems, to access herd records stored in the farm’s PCDART record-keeping system. The mobile app syncs wirelessly with the office computer that stores the records so he can retrieve the data anytime, anywhere.
Shockey has customized the app so it shows him action lists for the whole herd and information about individual cows, such as a cow’s production status, her breeding history and health records. Shockey uses this information to monitor cows, make decisions during herd checks and to schedule tasks such as breeding, vaccination and dry offs.
“Whatever task you’re doing that day with your herd, you can just pull the phone out and pull up the list,” he says. “You can rank them on milk production, somatic cell, fat and protein. You can rank them when they’re due to go dry or days since bred. It’s up to you to customize it so it’s best for your operation.”
Shockey has made the app accessible to certain employees, particularly those in management roles, but also new employees who are not familiar with the cows.
“If they’re pushing the cows up or they’re in the parlor milking cows, they can check that cow’s history themselves,” Shockey says. “They can see when she was fresh, when she was bred, who her sire is, who her dam is — all of that cow’s history is right there.
“I don’t know that I’d recommend it for every employee, but definitely the people who are right there beside the cows working with them every day.”
Shockey also has dabbled with using the app to enter data into the record-keeping system.
“We are now starting to input some data with the calving input (feature),” he says. “We just keep moving forward with it. It’s unlimited what you can do with it.”
For more information about the PocketDairy Android App, type “PocketDairy Android App” into the “Search” box at dairyherd.com or visit www.drms.org.