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For the veteran DHIA field technician, test day can become monotonous. Identify the cow by her tag number. Assign a sample number to the cow. Record the cow’s milk weight and pen number. Do that 2,500 times in a ten-hour period, twenty times a month, twelve months a year, times how many years in a career...You get the picture.

Fortunately, it's not as bad as the previous paragraph makes it sound. There are different kinds of barns. In some barns you test with co-workers. Some testers develop friendships with the people on the dairy. Stick around long enough and you almost become part of the family.

But there is no way around the fact that the average full-time DHI field technician in the Western U.S. probably identifies, weighs, and samples over 18,000 cows a month. Putting it another way, over the year, a tester will come eyeball to cow ear with over a 250,000 cows.

The California DHIA purchased the rights to the original MilkHand test day data collection system back in 2000. The original system includes a Corvallis Microtechnology MC-V handheld computer with the MilkHand software installed. This system had one function and performs that function very well. But as producers increased the frequency of the times certain parts of the herd are milked, herd size increased, and additional demands were placed on testers, it seemed the theme of the day became how to develop a “workaround” to make this system do what was needed.

The California DHIA Board of Directors and Management agreed that there was a need to take all we had learned in over 15 years of experience and 300+ units out in the field and re-write the software to reflect the needs of 21st century testing.. After a search of a number of possible candidates, CDHIA entered into an agreement with Orange Enterprises, in Fresno California. Orange Enterprises is primarily known for their pest control advisor program, Tiger Jill with well over 4,700 customers throughout North America. One of their co-founders, Udi Sosnik, had extensive dairy experience co-opting with the late Bliss Crandall of DHI-Provo on projects, working with UC Davis’ Don Bath on dairy nutrition programs, and contracting with other individual dairies for custom work.

The new software was written for the Pocket PC platform. Testers loved the new program and with a “ten minute crash course” they were testing cows. Loading and unloading a herd takes a bit of extra training, but the testers really see the benefits of this tool in operation.

The first units were Dell Axims in a ruggedized protective box (picture above). These worked well except they required the use of a stylus on a virtual screen. The testes wanted a 10-key pad because they are keying so much data in such a little time. Records from both DairyComp 305 and DHI-Plus can be downloaded for easy look-up and management of information.

Testing with the new MilkHand 4 PocketPC has revolutionized testing. The addition of a ruggedized handheld from PSION Teklogix with a keypad and Bluetooth has really accelerated the demand for this product. The use of RFID on test-day cuts the key strokes by 2/3. The tester simply loads a file from the dairy with the control number and RFID, and the MilkHand 4 PocketPC does the rest.

One of the early users said it best. “My errors have gone down from maybe ten (in a herd of 1,000) on any given test to two or three because I can punch in a number and it will tell me right then and there with no possibilities of duplicates. Now we’ve used it on a 6,000 cow dairy (in two pits) and our errors have gone down from fifty cows in the “old days” to maybe eight or ten per barn.”

In addition, he goes on to explain, “I can tell the dairyman that I know that a cow number in question is the number on the cow because I’ve looked at it twice. The computer told me that she is not in the herd, but that is the number that is in her ear. Dairymen like the idea of fewer mistakes and they like the idea of me being positive of the cow identification."

To date we have herds being tested in every type of parlor, and every milking speed imaginable. Reports out of Southern California indicate that the best DHIA testers can handle double 40 barns by themselves with the new system. The largest herd tested with the units to date is 16,000 cows with 5-digit IDs. The units provide real power to handle testing in 21st Century.

Contact us toll free at: 877-225-3442 for details, quotes, and references!
 


Call or E-mail us with any questions or to place an order – We can
usually ship same-day to anywhere cows are being tested.


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E-Mail:
caldhia@aol.com
PhonePhone: 559-274-9605
Fax: 559-274-9606

   
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