Clear on the other side of the globe is Qatar’s Baladna Farms — one of the largest livestock farms in the Middle East. That herd’s health and dairy production are monitored with the tap of an app, thanks to BoviSync, a company started by UW–Madison alumnus David Cook ’05, MS’11, PhD’12.
Cook runs BoviSync in his hometown of Eden, in Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac county. His journey to UW–Madison began at UW–Fond du Lac through the UW–Madison Connections Program, which offers in-state students the chance to transfer from a UW System school to the Madison campus. While working on a project at the Charter Street Heating Plant after undergrad, he discovered a passion for process and went back for a master’s in biological systems engineering and, ultimately, a PhD in dairy science.
Somewhere between earning his PhD, raising a family, and commuting to Madison from Eden for classes, he found time to come up with an idea that would change the dairy industry. He teamed up with fellow graduate student Nate Dudenhoeffer ’07, MS’16, and the two launched BoviSync, a herd-management software.
“It’s great to bring money into the state, not just from our country but from all over the world.”
“At the ground level, if I’m working with cows, there’s two things I need to know,” Cook explains. “I need to know what’s scheduled for this animal — vaccinations, hoof trimming. The other thing is, I see something about a cow, maybe it looks sick, and I need to know something about that cow. We have an app that does both of those things.”
Dairy cows are often equipped with an electronic chip; with BoviSync, farmers can attach a smartphone to their wrist, scan the chip with a wand, and get an immediate, full medical record for the animal. The data is uploaded to BoviSync’s cloud so that farmers can instantly access herd data from any location.
Some farms were relatively slow to adopt this new-age technology, but Cook says the game-changer was in 2016 when Milk Source — a dairy operator that milks about 35,000 cows across Wisconsin — signed on to BoviSync. “Getting one of the biggest farms to switch [to our] software … every suddenly took us seriously.” BoviSync does almost no direct marketing: their extensive client base — from Qatar to Russia to Rosendale, Wisconsin — grew almost entirely from good reviews and word of mouth. “It’s great to bring money into the state, not just from our country but from all over the world.”