Good Bulls app makes breeding easy (Allison Potter, March 2016)

South Gippsland, Vic dairyfarmer, Allison Potter says the new Good Bulls app gives her the convenience of her office tool in the paddock, where she does most of her thinking about bull selection.
“I really like the Displayabull tool on the DataGene website to look up the details of individual bulls. But I’m more focussed on the sorts of bulls that would suit our herd when the cows are in front of me, when I’m in the paddock or bringing them in for milking. The new Good Bulls app lets me look up bulls and also create list of bulls that might suit our breeding priorities – and it’s on my phone so I can take it wherever it suits,” Allison said.
Allison and her husband Aaron and her brother Rodney Goode and his wife Steph milk 500 cows across two herds at Poowong North. “One herd is autumn calving, and the other spring but for two months of the year we join both herds so that both families can have a holiday. We make the breeding decisions collectively because we are all interested in genetics and we each approach it slightly differently. Before we order, we get together and discuss our ideas and we also take advice from Brad Aitken, Leading Edge Genetics,” Mrs Potter said.
She said there was general agreement on the main breeding priority: production is a given and daughter fertility is the next priority. “We also look at temperament and stature. We have quite large cows and we are conscious of not wanting to breed giants.”
When considering potential sires, Mrs Potter looks at their indices (Balanced Performance, Health Weighted and Type Weighted) and Australian Breeding Values for specific traits. She also reviews catalogues. Mrs Potter is comfortable with the computer, having looked after the herd records for many years. Although not a regular user of apps for smart phones or tablets, she volunteered to be a test user of the Good Bulls app.
“I liked the idea of having the information at my fingertips, for example being able to look up a bull that could be useful over a particular cow when she’s standing in front of me; or when I’m away from the farm.”
Mrs Potter found the app very user friendly and liked being able to filter out bulls that won’t suit their herd. “We don’t buy bulls that are below 100 for daughter fertility so it’s handy to be able to filter them out. I like the way the app gives me a snapshot of information and makes it easy to delve into more details. I also like the graphic that illustrates a bull’s traits so that you can easily see his strengths and weaknesses.”
She plans to use the app to create customised shortlists that can be saved and emailed to other family members or their breeding adviser. Mrs Potter said it would be handy to receive a reminder when it was time to start thinking about ordering straws for each joining. “Spring is such a busy time with calving then silage that it’s easy to run late with ordering semen. A reminder from the app will be useful.”
Peter Williams, from DataGene, said the app included an expansive database of dairy bulls from Australia and overseas with the information updated twice a year with the April and August release of Australian Breeding Values (ABVs).
The app is available for both iphone and android phones and can be used on tablets.
For more information contact Peter Williams at DataGene ph (03) 9032 7191 or email