Two reasons why activity monitoring can improve your dairy reproduction results

It has been well documented that a single missed heat on an Irish grazing farm can cost a dairy farmer €250. In today’s dairy economy, that’s a lot of money to use someplace else – especially if multiple heats are missed.

“When heats aren’t detected, it leads to more time and labour spent tracking, drafting and breeding cows,” says Rudie Lammers, product manager for Nedap.

“Activity monitoring systems help dairy farmers catch cows in heat for timely insemination,” he added.

Here are two reasons the Nedap CowControl activity monitoring system can get more cows pregnant faster, resulting in more money in your pocket.

Reason one – Track cow activity 24/7

Although you can visibly detect a cow standing to be mounted, it is not fail-proof. And, it’s not realistic to monitor cows 24/7 – especially when they are on pasture most of the day.

There are only 1.5 mounts/hour/cow and each mount lasts four-to-six seconds. A cow’s heat lasts six-to-eight hours.

Collectively, these numbers tell us cows are in heat for one-third of the day and spend just three-to-five minutes standing to be mounted; that’s a very small window to catch a heat.

Heat activity of cows tends to be lowest during feeding and milking time; the time you or your staff are most likely with the cows. However, cow activity is at its highest while you’re probably sleeping.

Approximately 70% of mounting occurs between 7:00pm and 7:00am when cows have limited distractions².

“Activity monitoring takes on the full-time job of heat detection,” says Lammers. “These systems also rely on other indicators, like sniffing and chin resting, to make sure heats don’t get missed.

Data can also provide actionable insights about the optimum time to inseminate for the highest chance of conception.

Irish dairy farmer Brian Mooney used tailpaint for heat detection in the past. However, tail-painting was nearly impossible, because he had to go out to the fields and just watch cows.

“The cows will pile around you and you expect the cows to move,” he said. That was a very hard job without a monitoring system.”

Now, he uses Nedap CowControl on his phone to look which cows are in heat.

“It is very accurate, you can see cows turn up 21 days or whatever after the last time. It’s good; it’s very good,” Mooney said enthusiastically.

Reason two –  Quickly find cows not showing heat

Sometimes a cow won’t show a heat because of environmental or metabolic factors, like sore feet or legs, heat stress or ketosis complications.

Also, she simply may not be cycling (annovular). With an activity monitoring system, you can act proactively by finding these problem cows quicker, then solving the cause of the fertility problem or providing an effective treatment to resolve it – ultimately, getting them bred faster.

“Instead of missing the heat altogether, and waiting for the next cycle, activity monitors give you insights to dig deeper into why a cow didn’t come into heat,” says Lammers.

“Insights from data can help you make a management decision to get a cow bred as quickly as possible, regardless of why she isn’t showing heat.”

Using an activity monitoring system allows you to catch cows in heat and take early action when there’s a problem.

The result: Improved reproductive outcomes and money in your pocket.

Enda Doran, a dairy farmer in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, also experiences the benefits of Nedap CowControl.

Previously, Enda would rely on tailpaint, but was not overly successful; submission rates were about 50% in three weeks. However, since installing Nedap, it was already up to 97% in the first spring.

“And we completed a 100% submission rate in less than four weeks, which we could never come near that before with the old system,” Doran said.

More information

Would you like to get to know more about Nedap CowControl? To learn more, just click here

You can also contact your local Nedap distributor; they can provide comprehensive information about Nedap CowControl technology and how it can benefit your business.