Using data to add value to dairy farms
Dairy farms have a tremendous amount of data available for consultants to evaluate and interpret. Veterinarians are in a unique position on most dairy farms to be trusted consultants because of their observational skills, frequent exposure to the cows, and knowledge surrounding many different biological processes on the farm. Benchmarking means to evaluate something compared to a standard. Benchmarking data on farms can be both helpful and dangerous at the same time due to several factors. Dairy managers should be encouraged to set goals, monitor trends, suggest changes, and evaluate results. Again, the herd veterinarian is in the position to be able to consult with the farm on all of these items. If veterinarians do not get involved in the analysis, other consultants will likely fill that void.