SimHerd is a computer model of a dairy herd. In more than two decades the model has been applied and further developed within the research field of dairy herd management and animal health economics. Analyses with SimHerd have been included in 11 ph.d. theses, 6 master theses and over 30 papers in scientific journals.
SimHerd adds value for the farmer in two ways:
- Operational: SimHerd quantifies the economic potential of improving management: “What if we improve pregnancy rates or udder health”? SimHerd developed a specific application screening the herd for low hanging fruits: the economic analysis of animal health
- Strategic: forecast herd development under different conditions and breeding strategies. “What if we expand the herd with and without using sexed semen? or what if we invest in better calving facilities?”
Minor attempts for introducing the model as a herd health advisory tool has been carried out over the years. However, the model has not yet been used broadly as a herd health advisory tool, which mainly has been explained by the complexity of the model and the lack of user friendliness. This was challenged in the project supported by the Danish Law of Innovation during 2007 to 2009, where the specific aim was to develop a user friendly web application of the SimHerd model in collaboration between StrateKo, Danish Cattle Federation and Aarhus University. This aim was fulfilled at the end of 2009 by a beta version of a SimHerd web application tested by veterinary practitioners in real herd health advisory situation and approved as the core product for starting up in early 2010 a commercial spin-off company owned by NOVI Innovation and Aarhus University. In this report the project on converting a scientific model into a user-friendly advisory tool is described. This report has been presented on an international workshop on Animal Health Economics in Nantes, France (14th and 15th of January 2010).