Axe Throwing, Alcohol and Cows
It is a strange and disturbing combination that has spread across America. Axe throwing and alcohol are being combined as a form of entertainment. Yes, I am sure that someone thinks they have safeguards in place, but really?
And how does this relate to cows?
The night begins and the first axe is thrown. After multiple throws the newbie is clearly all over the target, they simply don’t have the skills required. The night progresses and blood alcohol levels are still below the legal limit. Our newbie axe thrower can now throw the axe consistently: every axe lands exactly to the right of the target in a tight formation. They are precise in their throwing but don’t hit the bullseye, so they are not accurate. A few adjustments and they are still throwing in a tight formation but hitting the bullseye. They are now precise and accurate.
Alcohol consumption begins. This same person begins throwing a bit more randomly around the bullseye; the throws are evenly spaced at the bullseye but not in a tight formation. They are accurate but not precise.
Where do the cows fit in here?
This reminds me of many problems we have when troubleshooting problems on the dairy. Two examples:
The urine pH meter. We use the urine pH meter on farms with DCAD diets to see if our rations are on target. I’ve been on some farms where urine pHs average 5.8. At first, we are pleased with the results until we look closer. There are some cows that are at 5.0 and some cows at 7.0. The average is ok and the results are accurate. But, like the axe thrower with too much alcohol, the results are not precise. We don’t have a tight formation. I have seen old meters lose precision. We need to double check these outliers to another meter or pH strips. We might have cows sorting their TMR with poorly processed straw; the results may be correct but are not precise because of ration sorting.
Forage Dry Matters. A more difficult farm situation is when the results are consistent or precise but not accurate. When we do dry matters on farms, we can use a Koster tester, a dehydrator or maybe one of those new on-farm high tech cups. In year one, we fine tune our methods. The Koster runs like a dream and that expensive cup has results that are double checked against another method. The problem comes in year 2 or 3. I’ve seen cups that continue to generate numbers that are very consistent, very precise; but at some point, I’ve compared them to a lab or Koster and realize the result has drifted up or down by 2 or 3 points. I’ve also seen Koster testers that no longer generate enough heat. The usual 45 minutes generates a consistent, precise result on corn silage of 36% dry matter. However, the sample is actually 32% dry matter. For a procedure that is critical to the success of the feed center, we need to double check our equipment. Do we have two Kosters? Do we check the results against a dehydrator? It’s not good enough to be consistent and precise, we need to be accurate.
Precision and accuracy.
Axe throwing and cows: a lot in common… just don’t combine these two with alcohol.