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UNIVERSITY PARK (Centre
Co.) Penn State dairy scientists
and computer software engineers
have been working together to de
sign new tools to help dairy pro
ducers make difficult decisions
about problems that create lost re
venue year after year.
These tools are “user friendly”
software programs called comput
er decision aids. They can identify
a problem for a particular produc
er, teach how to control the prob
lem. and estimate the cost to im
plement a control program.
To achieve this, the program
calls on a database unique to the
farm in conjunction with expert
knowledge gleaned from a variety
of sources. Using a personal com
puter, one can put the software to
use with modest computer skills.
Nearing completion, one such
program the Mastitis Control
System is being field-tested by
select users whose recommenda
tions will be incorporated into the
Developed for IBM-compatible
computers, this decision aid can
easily retrieve DHIA mastitis data
from a remote location and evalu
ate mastitis control procedures
used on specific farms. Graphs, ta
bles, and worksheets ate employ
ed to help the user understand and
formulate a plan for mastitis con
trol in a particular herd.
The system provides a new way
for veterinarians, feed dealers,
consultants assisting farmers with
mastitis problems, and some dairy
farmers to access and apply infor
mation on mastitis and find solu
tions for this costly problem.
Based on DHIA data and cur
rently available information on
mastitis, the program walks users
through a step-by-step process of
questions and answers that sheds
lilght on problems and suggests
solutions specific to individual
Using this information, the pro-
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gram creates worksheets to calcu
late milk loss, aids to convert so
matic cells to linear scoree, lists of
most severe cows, graphs of his
torical herd data, and partial bud
gets to assist with decision mak
For instance, one screen asks
the user to evaluate the herd by
placing“X”s next to appropriate
■ Have you added new cows to
the herd during the last six
• Is a common wash cloth or
sponge used, to wash udders?
• Were chronically infected or
low-producing cows culled in
mid- to late-lactation?
• Did you change any manage
ment practices recently?
• Was the weather hot and
humid, or are the udders dirty?
• Has the weather been very
• Has the milking equipment
been tested in the last six months?
• Are there any bacterial culture
The computer then uses an
swers to these questions, along
with DHIA data, to query the user
further on specifics or to create
graphs or charts to increase the
user’s understanding of the prob
If the computer decides the
problem is a form of mastitis caus
ed by bacterium known as Staphy
lococcus aureus, for example, it
next asks the user to choose from a
“menu” of information on the top
ic, such as:
• Where can Staph, aureus be
found on the farm?
• How does the infection move
from cow to cow once it develops?
• What kind of mastitis prob
lems can Staph, aureus cause?
• How widespread can a staph
problem be within a herd?
• What signs might tip me off
that a Staph, aureus problem ex-
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ists in my herd?
• What steps should I take to
solve the problem?
By bringing together massive
amounts of information and mak
ing it easily accessible, computer
decision aids make it vastly simp
ler for producers to identify, anal
yze, and leant about problems that
For instance, one database
alone, used as a source in the de
velopment of the Mastitis Control
Program, contains 12,000 docu
ments, 1,300 graphs, SO compre
hensive data collections, SO com
puter programs, and even a
Gold Bar Champion Saler Bull
DENVER, Colo. Gold Bar National Champion Bull at the
was recendy awarded the 1994 Canadian Western Agribition
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Award here at the National West- Now as a senior bull, Gold Bar
em Stock Show. was the reserve senior champion
As a 10-month-old calf, he was bull at the North American Lives
named Reserve National Calf lock Exposition at Louisville, Ky.,
Champion at Denver. As a year- in November and senior and grand
he was named Canadian 'ion bull Denver.
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jr was recei named National Champion Saler bull. From left Salers
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ing, Harrison, Ark.; E.C. Rowlett, Guy, Ark.; Wes Hudson (at halter), Harrison, Ark.;
and Jay Temchack, Bellefonte, Pa.
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-14-minute video—all on a single
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Other computer decision aid
programs currently undo: devel
opment include a lactation graph
evaluator and a herd performance
evaluator. Although Computers
will never replace individuals in
the decision-making process, they
go a long way in making the pro
cess more precise and less tedious.
Funding for the work on the
Mastitis Control Program was
provided by the Pennsylvania De-
Cull Your Cyanamid Rep.
Unc«rt»r Farming, Saturday, April 23,1N4433
partment of Agriculture and Penn
State’s College of Agricultural
Sciences and Department of Dairy
and Animal Science.
Project Leader C. William
Heald, in conjunction with the
Center for Mastitis Research, col
laborated with the following indi
viduals in the development of this
decision-making tool: William M.
Sischo and Dale A. Moore of the
Department of Veterinary Sci
ence, James Boyer of Pennsylva
nia DHIA, and computer pro
grammers Michael Foster, Tai-
Oun Kim, and Jae Lee.
Gold Bar is the first Saler bull
to have won both the U.S. and
Canadian National titles. Gold Bar
is owned and managed by E.C.
Rowlett, Guy. Ark.; Greenough
Cattle Co., Missoula, Mont; Joe
Dealing, Harrison, Ark.; and Met
ro Ltd., Jay Temchack, Bellefonte,
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