ICT tools a game changer on most farms
Many dairy farmers in Africa perform badly due to poor record-keeping and information management.
Managing records properly is a crucial aspect in carrying out Good Agricultural Practices. With the growth of ICT in the agricultural sector, farmers can now easily monitor the general performance of their dairy herds, generally referred to as Cowsignals.
There are several ICT innovations available in the market that can help dairy entrepreneurs to track their progress in real-time and keep proper records.
Dairy farmers who keep records manually may not benefit so much, as they easily lose them. Analysis and generation of reports is difficult and may not be accurate, due to the bulky manual records.
These challenges in record management can result in a loss-making venture.
Dairy Herd Management Systems have been used in Kenya by large and small-scale dairy farmers for over four years now. They can be installed in any Android smart phone and they allow capture of all the Cow signals data from everywhere, including the field.
Apps such as the Smartcow App, a cloud-based dairy management system, which allows farmers to register details of their herd, monitor the daily activities and manage the information. It monitors daily production, weight records, milk sales, feeding, calf growth, expenses, and such, and generates several reports that are significant in decision-making.
The app sends alerts and notifications for activities that are due such as breeding dates, heat checks, pregnancy confirmation, drying, steaming, calving and health dates such as next de-worming, next vaccinations, production records, calf growth records, feeding records etc.
Dairy ICT innovations can also be integrated into digital weighing scales to enable automatic weight recording from Bluetooth-enabled weighing scales which send the data directly to the owner.
Good ICT innovations will also have platforms that allow farmers to apply for loans from the app, access and search for vets by location and services, purchase inputs at discounted rates, and chat with experts.
The mobile apps give statistics of the farm’s performance within a period, facilitating comparison and analysis and sending SMS notifications for all activities due on the farm.
Dairy farm records are stored in the cloud servers, and allow connectivity and access from any location. This is a godsend for ‘telephone farmers’, as they are now able to monitor and access the records on a real-time basis from wherever they are.