Chris Mondak, Dairy Field Specialist, Northwest Iowa
A common characteristic of a successful manager is the ability to use dairy production records to guide herd management decisions. Many dairy producers and consultants have admitted to under-utilizing DHI records. As Iowa embarks on a statewide effort to build the state’s dairy industry, the need for skilled managers who can efficiently manage larger and higher-producing herds will increase, and efficient use of dairy herd records will be a necessity.
Joining forces with dairy consultants, DHI field representatives, and Dairy Lab Services, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension dairy staff prepared updated modules that focus on helping producers make the most of their DHI records, especially in the key areas of milk production, milk quality & udder health, and reproduction. To help producers better utilize the computer software program that analyses and organizes the DHI production records, ISU Extension partnered with Dairy Lab Service staff to present workshops on PC Dart software. The pilots of the DHI workshop were held in late Fall 2004, and the pilot PC Dart workshop was held in Summer 2005. Plans are in the works to continue both segments, the records interpretation and the computer software management, at future workshops to be scheduled throughout the state.
Thirty-one people (mixed audience of producers and consultants) attended the late Fall 2004 DHI workshops entitled Expect to Excel. In a follow-up evaluation survey conducted 7-months after the workshop, 13 participants completed a mail-in survey. All 13 marked that the workshop increased their knowledge and understanding of DHI records. Nine of 13 indicated that they’ve increased their weekly or monthly use of DHI records, and 7 of 13 indicated that they made management changes as a result of the workshop. The statements about changes made by these participants include: “Now taking a closer look at breeding/reproductive status.” “Make better use of the information available; more informed about the options and how to search for information.” “Helped me help my producer on (milk) quality issues.” “Feeding.” “As I consultant, I now use PC Dart on all my clients except one; I’m now better able to focus clients’ attention on specific management areas.” “As a consultant I was able to better work with my producers on areas of concern or areas of strength by going over DHI with them. Decisions were made in regard to reproduction, health and production.” “I now look at the breeding and reproduction sections more closely. I remind my clients how heat detection and breeding management affect milk production and rolling herd averages.” Fourteen producers, two field testers, one nutritionist, and one veterinarian attended the pilot PC Dart for Dairy Producers workshop in mid-August 2005. This workshop was conducted in a computer lab at a community college, and involved each participant in use of the PC Dart program. Participants gained knowledge about mechanics of navigating in the program, learned about new features in the program, and asked questions about problems they’ve encountered at home when using the program to enter or analyze data. The overall response has been very favorable to these updated workshops. ISU Extension workers are now planning to continue partnership with Dairy Lab Services to present a statewide workshop series that will present both DHI and PC Dart information and training.
August 31, 2005
109 -- Dairy
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