Are you interested in farmer-operated milk recording systems? Please take a look at our answers to some questions about this topic.
1. How are farmers trained to record with this kind of system?
- We have had a mainly farmer-operated milk recording system since the 1990’s.
- For new customers, a local advisor will show them how to take samples etc.
- The ProAgria customer service monitors the data and intervenes with advice if they notice any problems.
- In some other countries, farmers are first required to take a test in sampling before they are allowed to record.
2. Do you still compare milk recording data with the milk delivery data and what percentage of the difference have you allowed?
- We do, although nowadays these figures are not the only criterium for having one’s result deemed unofficial.
- When the system only looked at these figures, the allowed deviation was 7% for milk weight and 0.5 % unit for fat. Now you may lose enough points at a smaller deviation if there are other problems with data quality.
3. Could you say something more about Data Quality Points? What exactly does this indicator include?
- A comparison of milk volumes and fat content between recording results and dairy deliverie
- Verification that the herd uses accepted milk meters that have been duly tested
- Number of recording days and samplings during the latest 12 months
- Intervals from the latest recording and sampling
- The amount of milk reported to stay on the farm
4. What type of validation processes do you have in place?
- Normal plausibility checks in the farm management software and at the entrance to the database
- Data Quality Point calculation
5. How does a farmer-operated system match official ICAR requirements?
- ICAR Guidelines 1.3. states that it is an accepted option. As with any other method, “an ICAR approved supervisory system must be maintained and check data regularly documented to provide authentication for the records.”
6. Is the farmer-collected data made public by breed associations, on pedigrees for example? Does the information from farmer-operated milk recording get incorporated into national databases for bull proofs, genomic considerations etc?
- Yes, it is incorporated and published everywhere. Please keep in mind we have 96% of all herds in partly or totally farmer-operated systems.
7. As I understand it, when the data quality points are low you cancel the herd’s milk recording results. What if the farmer does not agree with your decision?
- We do not ask them if they agree, the loss of official status happens automatically on the basis of data. There is nobody who can remove the unofficial status.
8. Do you use the fat and protein data generated by robot sensors?
- No, we do not. So far, there are no sensors that would be accurate enough to have ICAR approval.
9. Can you give some more details about correcting milk contents when you allow a one-milking sample?
- The ICAR approved methods are listed in ICAR Guidelines 2.9.4. and described in the relevant procedure appendix.
- We use the Delorenzo-Wiggans method for conventional milking, but with new factors based on Finnish data. The method is going to be in the ICAR guideline but the process is not finished yet.
- We use an updated version of the Galesloot-Peters method in robotic milking.
10. How do you utilise herd management programmes in farmer-operated milk recording systems?
- Easy recording of events is crucial in a farmer-operated recording system. This also includes plausibility checks to make sure we do not get incorrect data by mistake. Most Finnish farmers use our MyFarm software for all milk recording and cattle movement related reporting.
11. Could you add more about the role SimplyCow plays in recording? Particularly, how does the software help farmers to do their part of work?
- The closer to the actual event data is recorded the better the quality. We want to give farmers an easy tool to record events and milk weights right next to the animals, and that is made possible by SimplyCow.
- The SimplyCow recording option has three features to make the process as smooth as possible:
i. cows disappear from the milking list after they have a milk weight
ii. you can search cows by their number (helps with a long cow list)
iii. all milk weights within 20 hours will be automatically combined into one record
12. What proportion of records remain unofficial?
- Nowadays we are at approximately 10% of all herds, mostly due to sampling issues
- The number was about twice as high before we started giving the breeders immediate feedback after each recording
13. How are unofficial data used – for example in statistics and genetic evaluation?
- They are not published anywhere, and not included in any statistics.
- They are, however, used in genetic evaluation
14. How about the cost – How do you charge the farmers for A- and B- type respectively?
- The basic fees only cover farmer-operated recording. If a breeder wants a technician to do the recording he must pay an hourly fee directly depending on how much work it takes to sample their herd.