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UW Vet School Unveils New Apps for Dairy Producers
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 06/29/2015

Dairy farmers can now take advantage of eight new iPad applications developed by students and staff of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The school's Food Animal Production Medicine program says the apps, which are available on the iTunes store, provide a wide variety of assistance from the Freestall Assessor app that helps guide freestall construction to optimize cow comfort and milk production, to the Group Pen Respiratory Scorer app that offers step-by-step instructions on assessing the respiratory health of calves.

"These are tools that can be used to make evaluating different aspects of dairy farming much easier," says Nigel Cook, professor and chair in the Department of Medical Sciences. "For most of these apps, we've taken proven, pen-and-paper systems, which our faculty previously developed, and translated them into a portable, digital format."

In addition to eliminating the hassles of paperwork, the major advantages of the apps include instant feedback on various measurements, immediate data uploads, long-term data storage, and analytical functionality.

"All of this can lead to greater efficiency and cost savings for dairy farms," says Tom Bennett, a senior information processing consultant at the SVM who played a lead role in developing the apps.

Baraboo's Karl Burgi, of Sure Step Consulting International, LLC, uses several of the apps when working with clients at dairy farms across the globe and as part of the hoof-trimming services he provides in south central Wisconsin. He says they have led to improvements on the farms he visits.

"Often you just have a feeling of what's wrong on a farm, but the apps back it up with science," says Burgi. "They help you educate clients by showing them the science, and they help you give recommendations to dairy producers more easily."

The utility of the apps in client education is fitting because they began as teaching tools at the SVM and continue to play a major role in preparing the next generation of food animal veterinarians. A grant from the UW-Madison Educational Innovation initiative supported the development of teaching modules for clinical rotations in food animal production medicine for fourth-year students, as well as the purchase of 15 tablets for a mobile FAPM learning lab.

Apps were the next logical step, says Cook. "Now students use them for learning in the classroom and out in the field during farm visits. But we also wanted these apps to be available commercially for anyone who wants to use them."

Since first launching in September 2014, FAPM's apps have logged nearly 900 downloads in 40 countries on six continents. Proceeds from purchases support ongoing app development. Two additional apps - one for assessing and preventing lameness in cows and another for identifying and predicting an infectious hoof disease called digital dermatitis - have been developed in partnership with Zinpro Corporation, which has taken over their management.

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