Making changes at Berghuis farm? Not without Ida

July 16, 2020
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Ask Ida

Ida was part of the well-established routines at the Berghuis farm. However, when Covid-19 forced the world into lockdown, daily life took a new twist. Jolanda started to homeschool her kids, leaving her with less time to manage the 125-cow dairy. An opportunity to purchase leftover potatoes meant testing a new diet. Ida kept up seamlessly with the changes, providing even more value during uncertain times. 

Farm Overview


Jolanda Berghuis


The Netherlands

Dairy Cows





40 hectares
98 acres

Ida Hired

Q3 2019

Key Results

savings for treating sick cow early instead of replacing her

Confidence Gained when making changes to diet or using bolus

Peace of Mind invaluable during the Covid-19 pandemic

An assistant on your phone

Jolanda and her husband, Gerard, decided to switch from the SCR Heatime system to Ida in November 2019. “It is all about simple and effective tools. There are systems on the market where you have to walk to the computer screen to really look at the data. You don’t want that. You are in the barn, with a cow next to you, and you immediately want to see what is going on. Ida is very handy and user-friendly because I can see everything on my phone.” Jolanda also likes the business model. “I am always up to date with the latest updates, because Ida uses the subscription model. I don’t need to invest in the hardware.”

“I am always up to date with the latest updates, because Ida uses the subscription model. I don’t need to invest in the hardware.”

Saving cows with early pneumonia detection

Just after Ida arrived on the farm, Jolanda spoke with her veterinarian about diagnosing problems using Health Insights. “He told me to temperature the cows first when Ida tells me that a cow has a potential health problem. If the temperature is elevated, I always contact the veterinarian straight after. If the temperature is normal, I look at other potential problems and will monitor the cow closely for the consecutive days. This way of working suits me,” she explained.

Jolanda also learned to give Ida feedback on insights. “This is really something different than other systems and helps Ida to get better and learn from the farmer’s input. When I receive a health insight, Ida walks me through a diagnosis tool and I can fill in her diagnosis,” she explained.

Ida quickly showed her value. “Ida informed us that a couple of cows had a drop in eating activity. The thermometer showed a temperature of 39-40 degrees. It turned out to be a severe flu and a pneumonia. Because I could intervene quickly, both animals were back on their feet within a day. Frankly, I did not see any abnormal behavior; without Ida, I could have easily lost a cow that is worth at least €2,000.”

“Having Ida on my side to make sure these older cows remain healthy and calving goes smoothly is very helpful.”

Impact of genetics on the herd

The dairy works with Semex, an international player in cattle genetics. “In our collaboration with Semex, Ida often comes in the conversations. I also see opportunities to use Ida to track animals from certain bulls we used for breeding,” said Jolanda. “For example, Semex’s Immunity+ ( sired animals have genetics which have been proven to provide robust immune systems capable of dealing with a large variety of potential challenges. What if we can use Ida to see if the offspring have fewer health alerts and are indeed more robust?”

Do cows like potatoes? 

Jolanda is very content with using Ask Ida to measure changes on the farm and their effect on cow behavior. She explained, “It is an easy and effective way to measure changes in the feed ration and then discuss the results with my feed advisor. For example, we can discuss when a certain drop in rumination activity is something to worry about, or whether this can be easily explained by the feed change. Ask Ida keeps us focused and fuels the discussion on what we call normal cow behavior versus deviant.”

Covid-19 presented an unusual opportunity to reduce feed costs. When demand from restaurants disappeared overnight, Dutch potato farmers had a sudden glut. Tons of potatoes were available for livestock feed at a bargain price. Jolanda was game to try it. “I was able to buy them for 25 euros a ton, a cheap alternative to corn. Many say potatoes are a great feed ingredient, but we never used them before. We used Ask Ida to monitor rumination behavior to make sure the cows reacted well to them. And we did see that they responded well to the feed change.”

Ida in the “new” normal

Life is slowly returning to normal in the Netherlands. Schools have re-opened. Restaurants are serving burgers and fries again. And Jolanda continues to use Ida to see the effect of changes. “I see the results and I simply wouldn’t want to farm without Ida anymore. We can keep the cows on their desired production level, monitor different groups and save on veterinary bills.” The Covid-19 storm will pass, but Ida is a keeper.