Published May 14, 2014

Afimilk:
Vital know-how
in every drop

For the past decade and currently the trend in the dairy sector there has been a decrease in producer numbers whilst herd size has increased dramatically. The economy of scale has forced producers to expand or sell. Dairying has become a business and as such, the management thereof has to adapt accordingly. With the advent of automation, herd management systems have evolved to assist the dairyman on a day to day basis in addition to providing data for future planning.

The flow of information on the dairy farm is the collection of data and analysing accumulated data by condensing it into a usable format for interpretation. Once the data has been interpreted, action can be taken to improve performance and profitability. More often than not, this mountain of information paralyses managers to inactivity. However, Afimilk does all the hard work for you, presenting the data in a ready to use format at the click of a button; milk production, conductivity, weight and milk solids are available immediately every day for every session. Afimilk is the world’s most comprehensive management software for advanced dairy farm and herd management. Its strength derives from its comprehensive animal database.
To measure is to know and managing your herd by implementing preventative measures will stand you in good stead rather than focusing in treatment or crisis management. Dairy production stands on 3 pillars; nutrition, reproduction and udder health. Afimilk provides in depth insight into each of these 3 pillars by providing tools to manage and measure each field.

Nutrition

Feed makes up the majority of the input costs on a dairy farm. Therefore, the importance of efficient feeding cannot be overstated. Cow identification allows for individualised feeding based on stage of lactation, milk production, weight, and unique to Afimilk, body condition scoring (BCS). Feed menu’s allowing the feeding of multiple feedstuffs are set up and subsequently adjusted based on the abovementioned criteria without intervention. In addition, AfiLab, an inline spectrophotometer, is able to provide real time data on milk protein, butterfat and lactose, enabling you to identify cows suffering from sub-acute rumen acidosis and ketosis and allows adjustment of their ration accordingly thereby preventing clinical disease.

Reproduction

Reproduction is another leg on which dairy production stands and requires attention to detail; detail provided by Afimilk. AfiAct pedometers allow identification of cows on heat by comparing their activity to the group average for each session. A report indicating the necessary data enabling you to make an informed decision on whether this was a true heat is available on request; cow number, DIM, days since previous heat/insemination, number of inseminations, increase in activity above the group average, sire etc. All reports can be customised to user specifications depending on the data you want displayed. Cows are then assigned a code which allows automated sorting at the sort gate.
This negates the need for expensive heat detection aids and extra labour for heat spotting and sorting. An increase in activity post pregnancy diagnosis also alerts you to a suspected abortion, which if detected early enough allows rebreeding of the cow or it can alert you to a possible abortion storm in the case of many abortions. Anoestrus and open cows can be managed by drawing up the reports and automatically sending these cows to the vet visit. Furthermore calving and dry off throughout the year is available allowing you to prepare accordingly.

Key reproductive performance indicators are readily available in a user friendly format on Afimilk; heat detection rate, pregnancy rate, conception rate, % conceived to 1st AI and any other figure you can think of.

Udder/General Health

Key reproductive performance indicators are readily available in a user friendly format on Afimilk; heat detection rate, pregnancy rate, conception rate, % conceived to 1st AI and any other figure you can think of.Inline conductivity meters have changed the way we diagnose and treat mastitis. In addition AfiLab provides SCC for every session allowing you to make a more informed decision on treatment and success of treatment to be expected. By analysing mastitis data certain trends can be identified thus allowing you to implement preventative measures and measuring success of treatment.
Overall health can be measured on the individual cow level. Reports created to alert you to a decrease in milk production, increase in conductivity, and decrease in activity as well as variation in butterfat, protein and lactose are available daily enabling you to sort these cows and tend to them immediately. Identifying a problem early will limit the amount of milk loss as well as decreasing the convalescent period.
Daily group milk, weight, and activity averages are also available thereby allowing you to identify a problem affecting the entire group or herd; indirectly helping with pasture/paddock management and rotation. By looking at the whole picture group comparisons, herd and yield planning, culling policies and calf/heifer rearing and replacement rate and be planned and managed.

Technical information

Herd management not only involves managing the cows, but managing the hardware as well. Afimilk alerts you to possible hardware problems; equipment malfunction, wash faults, parlour ID, scale malfunction, feed ID etc. It also allows you to evaluate your milking routine by calculating a milk curve for each session indicating milk flow rate and identifies any milking irregularities such as kick off, unnecessary multiple attachments, irregular take off etc.
Allowing the management of your milk machine and milking routine is invaluable as these two factors have a direct influence on milk production, mastitis incidence, longevity, worker motivation and performance.

Software support

The wealth of data available on Afimilk can be overwhelming, which is why AFI After Care was introduced in September 2011. AFI After Care is an online software support service developed by Waikato South Africa. The vision with AFI After Care is to see all Afimilk systems being used to their full potential enabling clients to get the maximum return on their investment. The mission is to ensure clients get the best possible value out of their Afimilk systems through providing software checks, support, advice, training and a data analysis service with the Afimilk benchmarking. AFI After Care is run by a panel of experts who help you set up the program to suit your specific needs; taking herd/individual cow management to a new level.
In summary, Afimilk brings modern management capabilities into the dairy farm. It is an easy to use, customizable program yet its management philosophy incorporates in-depth knowledge of dairy farming. Your cows deserve the highest quality in management so combined with your quality stockmanship, the perfect tool is Afifarm.

Written by Bernadine van den Berg, Afimilk – South Africa
and Chris Howath, Afimilk