Alfred de Vries (1961) is member of the Executive Board of herd improvement company CRV BV and responsible for global operations and product development. He joined the company in 2007 to manage their genetic department. Prior to that he worked for other international breeding companies after a scientific career in animal genetics at Wageningen University.
Management technologies for dairy farming
Dairy farms continue to grow, which makes herd management more complicated. On the other hand, increase of scale allows the use of new management technologies.
Large herds can be managed with simplified batch protocols and synchronization, but it is more efficient and natural to account for differences between individual animals. Precision feeding means that each animal gets nutrients based on its daily needs, which avoids waste of feed. Other input factors like veterinary treatments can be optimized in the same way.
Precision management requires detailed monitoring of the dairy herd with real-time data. Such data are nowadays available through various devices like milking robots, pedometers and camera’s. Current applications are based on single-source data (e.g. heat detection through pedometers), but these will be replaced with algorithms that combine data from multiple sources.
New technologies are also available to manage the overall quality of the herd. DNA-markers are of great value to evaluate the genetic potential of individual animals. As this tool can be applied already for selection at young age, it avoids rearing of surplus young stock and increases cow longevity.