Neu-Hope Dairy in Indiana is “hitting the numbers with Ida”

May 1, 2020
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Reproduction
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Health

When arriving at Neu-Hope Dairy in Bluffton, Indiana, the new barn is the first thing that stands out. The large barn was completed in November 2019, making it possible for Alex and Kip to expand their herd from 500 cows in October 2019 to almost 1,100 cows today. The expansion offered an opportunity to increase productivity and profitability, but also an increased need for assistance.

Farm Overview

Name

Alex Neuenschwander

Farm

Neu-Hope Dairy

Place

Bluffton, Indiana, USA

Dairy cows

1,100

Youngstock

537

Land

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

Hired Ida

Q1 2018

Key Results

20%
increase in heat detection rate

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

6%
increase in preg rate

A new kind of assistant

“We started with Ida almost two years ago. Our processor, Danone, was keen to try this technology in the field and see the results with some of their farmers. And we were one of the lucky ones to get the chance to start using this innovative technology on our dairy cows. We said yes right away,” explained Alex. Although he was new to this technology, Ida quickly became part of Alex’s daily decision-making. Her insights helped him make more informed choices and resulted in big improvements in cow performance and farm profitability.

Higher pregnancy rate

“Ida's heat detection capability is running really well,” said Alex. He decided to quit tail painting, a common method on US dairy farms to mark cows in heat. “By using Ida, catching cows in heat is much faster and accurate now. Our current heat detection rate is now over 60% now 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 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 in 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 of 28,370 pounds per cow per year (around 40kg 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. And working with good information improves the output and fun factor of the work,” he said.

We want to hit our numbers

The new barn is also contributing to the overall increase in farm performance. The cows are more centralized, which means a better overall overview on 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 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 easier...you 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 900 cows are ruminating, lying or resting in their free stalls. A clear sign of good animal welfare and healthy animals.