9 best practices when renewing or adopting feed management technology
Renewing or adopting feed management technology on your farm does not have to have to be a stressful process. These nine steps can help simplify the process, clarify your goals and determine what system best meets your needs.
1. Use your trusted advisors.
Who helps you make your best decisions? Even if a trusted adviser isn’t an expert on the exact topic, he or she can likely ask questions to help you think through the process.
2. Feed management programs can evolve.
At one time, investing in a feed management program was in the realm of buying a new farm pickup. Today, there are options that are more like having a cellphone plan. As technology and software move to subscription-based services, it’s easier to make a switch when a program no longer meets your needs.
3. Think about what you’re doing today.
Are you using batch sheets from your nutritionist, spreadsheets or a feed management program ?How satisfied are you with your results? Are you getting the reports you need to make feed decisions that improve ration formulation, ingredient handling and mixing efficiency?
4. Have a discussion with your nutritionist to rank your priorities.
This discussion should center on what aspects of a feed management program are most important for your operation. You will need to identify the areas that add value to your overall decision-making.All feed management programs will have features that you will consider useful – but not vital – to what you do to successfully operate your feed system.Ranking these is key.
5. Talk to other farmers.
We often learn the most from what our peers have experienced, what they like, what has frustrated them and what they have on their wish lists. Talking with other farmers can help you identify the resources that will improve how you feed animals and, ultimately, your bottom line.
6. Consider your technology preferences.
Do you like using mobile apps and having data in the cloud or do you prefer using a personal computer (PC)?
Historically, programs used PC-based software and a data-transfer system to communicate to a specific feed management program’s scale head. Today, many apps use the scale head purchased with the mixer and connect via Bluetooth. The newer technology allows significantly more users and devices to participate in the feeding system. Better internet connections have allowed both apps and the PC-based programs to update frequently.
Technical support is also a consideration as some vendors are more responsive to emails and others are better with phone calls. What do you or your team prefer? Ask vendors about their technical support processes before you make a purchase.
7. Realize you will never use all the features a program offers.
This is just a given, and it’s OK. Figure out what you can do, what you cannot do, what efficiencies you can gain, what is going to take more time, and what is most important to your team.
8. Improving feed management should be a goal.
Key items to evaluate are feeder loading accuracy, timing of deliveries, inventory shrink and change histories. Feed programs can help farm managers better observe these critical components, make adjustments, invest in tools and train employees.
9. Challenge yourself to improve.
As you evaluate a program, can you see that it meets current needs while also providing an opportunity to challenge yourself to get better in an area of feed management?
This article was originally written for the October 1, 2021, issue of Progressive Dairy. Click here to read the full article.
About the author: Jon Rasmussen is a dairy technology specialist on the Vita Plus team. He grew up on a small dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin. Rasmussen attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a bachelor’s degree in dairy science. He specializes in records analysis for the Vita Plus dairy team and works with dairy producers and consultants to help them evaluate data for improved dairy business management.
Business and economics
Feed quality and nutrition
Technology and data management