Mar 19, 2024

Better, data-driven decision making is easy at Kutz Dairy

At Kutz dairy, technology is considered a key element for lowering costs and improving efficiency without compromising on the care for cows or people.

Allan and his wife, Katie, his brother Aaron and his wife, Melanie, and their parents, Ron and Pam, share management responsibilities for the 2,300-Jersey cow dairy in Jefferson, Wisconsin. The family has been using Connecterra’s app to help incorporate data into their management decisions.

Allan was initially introduced to Connecterra through a collaboration with Zinpro. The innovative nutrition company was looking to evaluate app’s on-farm capabilities as part of its R & D program. Roger Olson, his Dairy Technical Account Manager at Zinpro, contacted him for participation. The program started with 100 cows and included access to the Connecterra app as well as the Ida for Farmers app for a year.

“My initial impression [of the Connecterra app] was that it looked like it had the potential to be a very useful tool.” – Allan Kutz

The platform began to collect data not only from the cows with collars, but also from the entire herd via the dairy management software, BoviSync. Allan was initially drawn to the graphs within the app.

“I like seeing things in a visual manner. It’s easy to read the graphs and compare charts. I like the consistency—especially the consistency of the app’s dashboard reports. There is a little learning at first, but then you can pull it up knowing what you’re looking at. It’s part of what makes it simple to use.”

Roger agreed with Allan.

“I’m not really a computer person, so I went to Allan and said, ‘let’s learn this together.’ So we met just three times and I got the hang of it.” – Roger Olson

Incorporating Connecterra’s data into a cool decision

It did not take long to see value. Temperatures began to rise in June, and by July, the Midwest was in the middle of the summer’s first heat wave.

“In our last barn, we built a tunnel ventilated barn. We did not have cow cooling over the feed lanes in any of the barns. And we’ve kind of been talking about what to do for some time.” – Allan

Connecterra’s behavior charts helped the Kutz team easily see and understand the impact of the barn’s temperature on their cows.

“We had the collars on those first 100 cows, some of them in a couple different pens. The first heatwave hit early that year, and we could see change in the charts right away—increased standing time, decreased eating and lying time.”

Once installed, the app’s data supported their decision to invest in a new cooling system.

We could immediately see the change. We could see if the cow has reacted differently or didn’t have the negative change in behavior to the same extent that she did before. It’s valuable to have data to help back up decisions you’ve made. It makes you feel confident that your decision was the right decision. It helps you to make further changes to with other cows or groups or areas of the business.” – Allan.

Connecterra gets faster with more datapoints

The decision to expand the product across all cows stemmed from Connecterra’s approach to continually iterating and improving the tech.

From the beginning we were interested in in doing a monitoring system to help us take better care of the cows. As we used the app more, we saw the ongoing changes and improvements.”

Allan also provided feedback on the experience and was happy with the company’s growth mindset.

“It is not ‘this is what we’ve got, it’s the best it works.’ It is more ‘we think what we’ve got is pretty good, but we’re always learning and know we can make it better.’ And that was one of the biggest things.” – Allan

Allan saw the full capabilities of Connecterra’s artificial intelligence with access to more data from the herd.

“That first couple of weeks, the app got smarter a lot faster. And you really started to see this just by the alerts coming through. It could really dial itself up fast. That was the part that impressed me the most.”

Easier data access means more informed and efficient meetings

Fast-forward to the end of another summer. Today Allan sees value not only from the dairy’s key decision makers, but also in how technology and data have changed collaborations with the broader team. In addition to Roger, two of his advisors also have access to the Connecterra app.

“Being able to give the people we work with access to Connecterra, to be able to see the same things at the same time, is a big help. Our nutritionist and veterinarian look at the data in order to know what is going on and to help us move forward.” – Allan.

Roger has had a similar experience using the Connecterra app in his work with Allan.

“One of the biggest barriers to making changes is that people do not know how to access or interpret their own data. It is a real hassle to gather the information from the farm and calculate the problem.” – Roger

He notes that most advisors have invested considerable time to get those critical insights.

“Once, I literally stayed overnight at a dairy and watched cows. I learned a lot. But the Connecterra app allows you to see a lot of those things without spending the night in a barn.”

Connecterra has also helped the Kutz team run more effective meetings.

“It used to be systems that weren’t cloud-based. Consultants would come to the farm, we would have a conversation about what we thought was going on and they would pull the data they wanted. Then they would go back to their computers, look at the reports and then come up with ideas. Now everybody shows up to the farm with a pretty good idea of what numbers look like and how things are going. That that makes our meetings easier and more efficient.”

Looking towards the future, Allan sees Connecterra’s capabilities and value continuing to grow.

“We see the improvements that come from artificial intelligence and the [Connecterra] team. It gives us a good deal of confidence that the company wanted to keep the system moving forward.”