Dairy One’s Integrated Farming Solutions group, known more commonly as the IFS group, is the on-farm technology team at Dairy One. While providing herd and crop management software and support is a large part of what they do, another highly valuable service they offer is camera system and network installations. There are a variety of different reasons you may want cameras on your farm. Many dairies are interested in having cameras installed to monitor animal and employee safety from anywhere on the farm, or even from off the farm. Others find that cameras can provide added security to both the facility and the animals.
A few weeks ago, I spent the day with two of the members of our IFS group, Doug and Tyler, installing cameras on a local beef and Morgan horse farm. While dairies tend to be the most common customers for camera installations, the IFS group installs cameras on a variety of different types of farms. Regardless of the type of animal the farm is working with, cameras can bring many of the same benefits to the business. One of the many great things about the Dairy One IFS group is that not only are they highly knowledgeable in regard to the hardware, software, and other technology they work with, but they also know animals. Prior to Dairy One, Doug owned and operated his own small dairy, and Tyler is still active on his family’s dairy today. Installations can involve equipment, sounds, and people that animals do not associate with their normal routine. The animal and farm experience Doug, Tyler, and the rest of the IFS group bring to the farm allows them to complete installations with minimal disruption to your animals and daily routine.
The camera installation process begins as a conversation. Why are you looking to have cameras installed? What are your expectations for these cameras? What do you need them to do? These are questions that Brandon, another member of our IFS group, discussed with the owners prior to install. Brandon spent an afternoon on the farm creating a plan with the owners that would meet their needs and ensure the install was as efficient and smooth as possible. This particular farm was looking to have four cameras installed: two in their calving pens, one in a horse stall to use for foal watch, and one that looked out over the driveway for security purposes. Gathering this information beforehand also ensured that the appropriate cameras and necessary equipment were brought to the farm on the day of the install.
Upon arrival on install day, Doug, Tyler, and I walked around with the owners to review the plan Brandon and the rest of the group had developed. At this time the owners also expressed some additional places they would be interested in placing cameras in the future. The horse barn in particular presented a few unique opportunities for cameras that we may not typically think of on dairies. For boarding facilities in particular, having cameras in the riding arena can be a great safety feature. The indoor riding arena and horse barns at this particular farm were not easy to see from the house. The owner expressed some concern about boarders riding and handling their horses unsupervised and felt cameras would be a great addition for safety and liability. She felt having cameras on tack rooms and storage areas would be an added security comfort for boarders as well. Of course, having cameras in stalls at foaling facilities allow owners and managers to monitor pregnant mares as they near their foaling dates, but cameras can also provide general monitoring of all horses while you’re off the farm.
Another great use for Dairy One cameras that may not immediately come to mind is employee development, on any kind of farm. While cameras are a great tool for monitoring employee performance and behavior, having a recording of how employees are performing day to day procedures can be valuable in many ways. To begin with, it’s an excellent opportunity to point out to employees where they are excelling as well as areas where there is room for improvement. Having footage of both exemplary actions as well as actions that can be improved can be a huge asset to employee education and engagement. Furthermore, footage of daily procedures may reveal areas of improvement or potential streamlining that have gone unnoticed.
Dairy One’s IFS group not only installs the cameras and the network necessary to run them, but they also work with clients to ensure they have access to the cameras where they need it. The network is connected to a computer, but can also be accessed from any Android or Apple device, including a cell phone, making it accessible remotely. Additionally, Dairy One’s experienced staff will ensure that your cameras are not only working properly but that they are installed safely, securely, and neatly with cameras and wires out of reach from animals and elements. Cameras are also installed modularly to ensure that if the need for expansion or additional cameras arises, the system can easily be expanded with little to no change required to the current system.
As anyone who uses technology can attest to, things don’t work perfectly 100% of the time. The team that installs your system does an excellent job documenting all aspects of the installation so anyone in the IFS group can answer any questions you may have. If you call the AMR support line with a question or problem, whoever answers will be able to reference any passwords or usernames used to set up your system as well as reference pictures of the installation so they are essentially seeing whatever it is you’re seeing. This way they can easily walk you through any glitches over the phone and have them resolved quickly and with little hassle.
At a time when many businesses are diversifying, expanding, or restructuring, cameras continue to grow as a valuable management tool. Whether you’re milking cows or breeding horses, monitoring employees or looking for added security, IFS can give you the eyes you need to be in two places at once.