Got precision dairy farming?

You probably already do and don’t even know it.

Precision dairy farming is the use of technologies to measure physiological, behavioral and production indicators on individual animals to improve management strategies and farm performance, Jeffrey Bewley, University of Kentucky assistant extension professor, dairy systems management explained to audiences at World Dairy Expo.

It encompasses a wide variety of technologies with varying degrees of complexity. For example, daily milk yield recording is actually a form of precision dairy farming. And you can ramp up to things like the measurement of specific attributes like fat content or progesterone within milk at each milking.

Many precision dairy farming technologies, including milk yield recording, milk component monitoring, pedometers, automatic temperature recording devices, milk conductivity indicators, automatic estrus detection monitors, and daily body weight measurements are already in use within the dairy industry, Bewley notes.

“Other technologies are being developed to measure rumen pH and contractions, feeding behavior, body condition score, animal positioning and activity, locomotion, lying behavior, odor, progesterone, heart rate, greenhouse gas emissions and respiration rate,” he adds. “The main objective is to maximize individual animal potential, early detection of disease and minimize the use of medication through preventative health measures.”

Precision dairy farming incorporates the concepts of informatics, biostatistics, ethology, economics, animal breeding, animal husbandry, animal nutrition and process engineering.

Bewley adds that the benefits of precision dairy farming include increased efficiency, reduced cost, improved product quality, minimized adverse environmental impacts, as well as improved animal health and well-being.

So if you weren’t familiar with the idea of precision dairy farming before now, get ready; you’ll be hearing quite a bit about it in the months and years to come.