Better management decisions and more efficient use of labor thanks to Ida

September 28, 2022
Related features
Ask Ida

“We would view Ida as one more person on the team,” says Alex Neuenschwander, a fourth-generation farmer, and co-owner of Neu-Hope Dairy in Bluffton, Indiana. “Ida’s biggest payoff is that we can streamline our efforts towards the correct cows at the correct times. Also, we can look at a mind-blowing amount of data in a very simple form, which helps us to know what management changes are working or not here.”

The farm’s large state-of-the-art barn was completed in November 2019, making it possible for Alex and his brother Kip to expand their herd from 400 cows in October 2019 to 1,100 cows today. The expansion offered an opportunity to increase productivity and profitability, but also necessitated more help on the dairy, which is where Ida came in.

Farm Overview


Alex Neuenschwander


Neu-Hope Dairy


Bluffton, Indiana, USA

Dairy cows





2,500 acres
(1,000 hectares) of soybeans, corn and alfalfa

Hired Ida

Q1 2018

Key Results

20 pts
increase in heat detection rate

+20 days
Voluntary Waiting Period increased from 60 to 80 days

11 pts

Increase in pregnancy rate

7 pounds

average cow solids per day


reduction in TAI usage

95 pounds

average milk production per day


FTE replaced

A new kind of assistant

“We started with Ida in 2019. Our processor, Danone, was keen to try this technology in the field and see the results with some of their farmers and we were fortunate to start using this innovative technology on our dairy cows.”

Although Alex was new to this technology, Ida quickly became part of Alex’s daily decision-making. Her insights helped him make more informed choices and see if his management choices were paying off , and resulted in big improvements in cow performance and farm profitability.

Higher pregnancy rate

“Ida's heat detection capability is running really well,” says Alex, who stopped using tail paint as a heat-detection method after he hired Ida. “By using Ida, catching cows in heat is much faster and accurate now. Our current heat detection rate is now over 60% as a result of that, compared to 40% in 2018. This increased the pregnancy rate, hence increasing the profitability of our farm.”

Alex noticed other reproduction improvements. “We also catch the repeats or non-cycling cows a lot sooner. Sometimes these include cows that I find too young to breed, then I simply let Ida know in the app. Ida learns from the feedback I give, which means that insights are getting better each time. It is a real savvy system!”

“Ida learns from the feedback I give, which means that insights are getting better each time. It is real savvy system!”

More time for fresh cows

With the confidence of better heat detection, Alex was also able to prolong the voluntarily waiting period of the fresh cows. “I wait at least until they are 80 days in milk, instead of the 60 days that we used before as a standard. When I give them a little bit more time after calving, the cows recover better and have less chance to develop mastitis.

"At a production level of around 34,000 pounds per cow per year (around 95 pounds per day) our goal was to increase the percentage of milk solid components. With Ida we have the luxury now to wait a little bit longer before I start the insemination process,” Alex explained.

A future-proof farm

Alex is also positive about Ida's health insights. “Ida is especially quick at spotting digestive problems that create a sudden drop in rumination time. I can take swift action and keep the cows health and welfare status as high as possible. And this is key for the future.”

US farmers still have many tools in their tool belt, including sync protocols and certain antibiotics. However, there is growing pressure to move away from these practices and to put more focus on animal welfare and soil health. “We are facing the same challenges as many dairy farmers outside the US,” he said. “And we believe that Ida is adding value to our overall management...really helping us to make our farm future proof.”

“And we believe that Ida is adding value to our overall management...really helping us to make our farm future proof.”

Better teamwork

Ida’s work goes beyond the farm owner. According to Alex, Neu-Hope’s herd manager and his assistant are using the app daily. “We notice that our farm staff is really enthusiastic about Ida because they get accurate information.” Ida’s insights are also used for conversations with the feed advisor. Each month, Alex shares rumination times and other relevant data. He also shares data with his veterinarian. “They like getting the information from Ida - working with good information improves the output and fun factor of the work,” he said.

“Additionally, Ida Enterprise has become something that is looked at on almost a daily basis as well for either a quick look at overall herd activity, or possibly a more in-depth look at herd trends.”

We want to hit our numbers

The new barn has also been contributing to the overall increase in farm performance. The cows are more centralized, which means a better overall overview of the herd.

“I still like to see the cows and walk the pens every day. But with Ida, life is so much easier,” said Alex. “When you open the Ida app in the morning, you know what the status of the herd is right away and which tasks require priority. We budget really tight and we want to hit our numbers.”

“But with Ida, life is so much know the status of the herd right away and what tasks require priority.”

A silent barn is a happy barn

“Data is going to be a continuous focus for us to become even better and further improve our farm. But the results with Ida on our farm speak for themselves,” Alex said while walking through the barn. Other than the conversation, there is silence.

And silence is golden: it means that the 1,100 cows are ruminating, lying, or resting in their free stalls. A clear sign of good animal welfare and healthy animals.

Future plans

Says Alex: “We will continue to fine tune our operation as is and look for opportunity to expand our profitability. I believe that Ida will help us do this by being the voice for our cows in helping us communicate with them.”