Hogeveen added a second key factor, and that is cost efficiency. Benefits of the technology should be more than the cost. However, costs are clear and benefits are often indirect, as many of the new sensors are designed to help reduce health problems, such as mastitis, metabolic disorders or lameness.
The third key factor for success are non-monetary factors (such as risk, the farmer's goals and preferences), and availability of labor or capital. These factors would probably be more important than profit maximization on farms where the family provides a large proportion of the labor.
As we talk about non-monetary factors, a technology that is growing in our region is robotic milking. Based on our research on this topic, producers who adopted this technology wanted to improve their quality of life and have a more flexible work schedule. They wanted to be able to participate in family activities. They wanted to use new technologies. They wanted to expand herd size by a fraction without hiring much extra labor.
I gave a presentation on robotic milking at the World Dairy Expo in early October and the room was full (my presentation can be found at www.worlddairyexpo.org under videos). Many producers seem to be considering robotic milking systems as the way to go for their operation. Recently, additional cow monitoring besides daily milk, cow weight, milk conductivity and cow activity are being added to robotic systems, including milk fat, protein, somatic cell count, progesterone and ketones in every quarter at every milking. Wow! We can know more about our cows than ever before. Of course the extra monitoring technology will cost more. But how much is it worth? Individual cow sensors will help improve reproductive efficiency, reduce mastitis, improve transition cow management, reduce disease prevalence, reduce mortality on farm, improve cow longevity, and in the end, all of these will contribute to improving the bottom line and animal welfare.