Scott MacLean: “IDA knows what she is doing”

Scott MacLean is a Canadian dairy farmer and enthusiastic IDA user but was a bit hesitant to fully trust the system in the beginning. “But now I fully trust it and see IDA as a true assistant in my daily work”.

The dairy farm of Scott MacLean is located in the beautiful countryside of Ontario, Canada, not far from the US border. Scott started with IDA about a year ago and decided to equip all lactating and dry cows with the IDA sensor. “I was just interested in trying some new technology. We had a different system already in place, so we could also compare the two regarding accuracy”. We caught up with Scott one year later to hear about the experiences so far.

“I trust IDA completely”

Scott receives text messages twice a day to alert him that there are new insights. The text messages are an extra service that a farmer can choose when using IDA. But in practice he looks at the app more often and he became a true fan of the IDA app over the last year. “I didn’t fully trust the system in the beginning. But after 6 months. I trusted it completely. I guess the trust thing is because I am stubborn. But if you ignore the IDA insights, it comes right back to bite you in the butt. I also tried to put false answers as feedback in the IDA app to see what happens. It is interesting to see how the system then suggest a whole list of new possible solutions for the problem. As I trust the system now completely, I only put in the right feedback of course”, Scott jokes.

Calving alert function

Because the dry cows also have a sensor, Scott gets insights on when a cow is about to calf. “The calving alert function is a great feature of IDA. The alerts give me a heads up to move a cow that is about to calf in a separate pen. This is great if you for example want to go away at night for a birthday party. It gives you more rest this way”, Scott explains. He often experienced that a pregnant cow still had a few weeks before calving. IDA alerted the farmer that the moment of calving was already in a day. “Initially, I thought that this was a wrong alert. But you learn fast when there is a calf the next morning, I learned not to disagree with the computer anymore. This system knows what she is doing, and you don’t have to look at all the data. Bang, the alerts are just there. It is very easy to use”, Scott says.

Scott is very pleased with the alerts of the system regarding heat detection, moment of calving and health. “I check the alerts in the morning, see that for example 2-3 cows are in heat. I then call the inseminator straight away. This makes the breeding management on the farm so much more efficient. Scott: “I also believe that IDA can help farmers through periods when things are not going the way as planned. For example, when you have problems with fertility or health. IDA can detect problems earlier, so you can prevent problems from getting worse”.

Track feed changes or footbath application

Scott also uses the ask IDA function, to track certain management changes and monitor the effect on rumination for example. “I use this quite often and I have around 6-7 questions saved that I use on a regular basis, for example when I change the feed or bedding or when I apply a footbath for the cows. “I recently added fresh corn silage to the ration. IDA tells me that rumination went up and feed efficiency stayed the same. This information is also great to share with the feed advisor and to have a discussion about it”, Scott says.

More farmers should use it

Although Scott is very happy with IDA and he sees a lot of potential in adding more data to IDA. “Think of adding genetic data of cows to the IDA platform. This will create more insights for farmers which cows are best to continue breeding with”, Scott addresses. He concludes by addressing that there are still many farms that can use help in running their farm more efficient by using systems like IDA, both in the US as in Canada. “IDA is a pay as you go system, cheap to get into and very accurate. Moreover, I see IDA as a real assistant to my daily work on the farm so I am convinced that more farmers should use it”.

Farm details:

Town: Staffa (Mitchell), Ontario, Canada
Name: Scott MacLean
Number of cows: 75 (Holsteins)
Number of youngstock: 70
Number of staff: 1
Ha of land / crops: 600 acres. Corn, beans, wheat and alfalfa
Average milk production / cow: 12,500 kg /cow/year with 4.1% fat and 3.15% protein
Average milk production per year: 650-700,000 kg.