Last week saw the Illinois-based feed additive and animal health company officially launched the Animate app for dairy producers using its feed additive Animate.
The app provides producers with a way to track multiple metrics for pre-fresh cows including dietary cation-anion difference (DCAD) levels, dry matter intake, urine pH, bunk space, stocking density and temperature-humidity index.
The goal of the project was to provide dairy producers with a way to collect and evaluate historical data and track elements of herd health and performance during the period prior to calving, said Owen Bewley, director of Phibro Animal Health Corporation’s North American Dairy Business.
He told FeedNavigator: “We’re trying to make life easier for the producers, the nutritionist and the veterinarian – now they can see all this information in one app for all their customers."
The free program also provides a way for producers to examine the data collected over time to track trends and performance patterns, he said. “The concept was how do we see this information over time to make a decision,” he added.
Initially, the app will be available to producers in the US and Canada, but there are already plans in place to widen its availability so producers in other regions can use it, said Bewley. “We built it with the ability to make it more global."
Currently, about 180 dairies in 21 states have started using the app.
Acidified diets and app development
The app was designed to track data regarding the health of pre-fresh cows receiving the feed additive Animate, said Bewley.
“What we’re doing is we’re acidifying the diet and looking at how does that translate out into urine pH,” he said. “We’re working on a metabolic alkalosis – we’re looking at mobilized blood calcium, so that when a cow has a calf and she has an increased demand calcium we give her more of her own calcium.”
The intention of the process is to prevent clinical or subclinical hypercalcemia, he said.
The feed supplement is used with dairy cows during a specific window of production, added Ken Zanzalari, product director of Animate with Phibro. Feed formulation is part of the process of using the feed additive and tracked in the app.
The diets have to be formulated to provide a specific DCAD value, and tracking that value and urine pH through the new app can be used to make sure the diet is being formulated and fed correctly, he told us.
Interest in developing the app started several years ago, said Bewley. Several of the elements collated in the program were already being collected, however, it was harder to see that how that data altered over a period time.
“Being able to look at the information over time helps producers make better decisions,” he said.
Looking at some elements, like a move in urine pH away from a specific range, can prompt immediate dietary alterations, but looking at the fluctuation in pH levels throughout the year may indicate the need to change how cows are managed, he added.
The app is meant to be user friendly, he said. Producers are able to input data regarding several metrics like urine pH or bunk space every week.
In addition to providing more information to the dairy producer, reports generated also can be sent to other stakeholders working with the dairy like the nutritionist, veterinarian or mamanager, he said.
“We designed it to be scale neutral if you have 1 cow or 50,000 cows,” said Bewley. “We definitely designed it to fit all sizes, but we put [in] some functionality for the largest producers who work in multiple sites and multiple states.”