In the Media - Allflex Australia

In the Media

Measuring it to manage it – improving in-calf rate through heat detection

Third generation dairy farmers Con and Michelle Glennen, who run a 400-head Jersey herd at the foothills of Mount Noorat in South West Victoria, are saving time and increasing joining efficiencies with the Allflex electronic collar monitoring technology.

Originally purchased by Con’s Grandparents Con and Maggie Glennen back in 1923, Con and his wife Michelle took over the farm in 1992 and now run the White Star Jersey Stud, with their two adult sons Jim and William.

The Glennens’ Jersey herd is the number one breeding herd on the Balanced Performance Index (BPI) in Australia; an index which represents a dairy cow’s contribution to the farm business across a number of metrics such as production, fertility and functional type.

In January 2020 the Glennens decided to collar the entire 400 herd for a variety of reasons including as Michelle said, “The need for an easier lifestyle, better heat detection, monitoring of animal health and improved in-calf rate,” which she said, “all called for a better way of looking at cows.”

The Glennens remarked that the system is a more efficient way of tracking the animals’ wellbeing 24/7, compared with being required to physically inspect the cows regularly during milking; or using heat detection adhesives on the back of the cow, two or three times for every joining.

The system has resulted in significant time savings for the Glennens, which allows them time to focus on other aspects of their farming enterprise. 

Having travelled extensively through Canada and the United States on a dairy industry tour, Con saw firsthand the influence of Allflex Dairy Cow Monitoring on a global scale. Con said, “We chose Allflex as they have a good reputation. We thought that herd identification, being the core business, they should get it right. SCR by Allflex is a major player in the monitoring space, with a strong dealer network and there was no bulldust.”

The Glennens saw the advantages and benefits in the technology and decided to invest in the new system with what Con describes as “a view for the future with respect to the past.” Michelle said the learning curve with the installation of the system, “was not difficult to learn as we have been using Dairy Herd Management software for 20 years.”

The Glennens have a long-term goal to build on their herd numbers through breeding by utilising higher-value AI and sexed semen straws. Michelle commented that the system’s insemination breeding window indicator will be critical in achieving larger herd numbers in the future, “Looking forward, the future of the farm will mean more cows, and being able to use more sexed semen will achieve this.”

The Allflex Livestock Intelligence dairy cow monitoring solution combines livestock identification and dairy cow monitoring technology; helping decrease farming overheads such as labour, allowing farmers more time to focus on other tasks, as well as promoting the wellbeing of the animal.

Glennen Farm Dairy Cows with Monitors

Allflex tech’s powering up Litchfields’ dairy op

The Litchfield family’s investment in technology from Allflex Livestock Intelligence is paying dividends within their southern NSW-based dairy farming operation.

Ian and Karen Litchfield purchased the 182-hectare Kariana, situated near Mayrung in the Riverina, in 2000, and over the years they’ve purchased three other blocks, which including Kariana cover 760ha of which 600ha consists of flat flood irrigation country.

Together with their daughter Amy and son-in-law Jack, the Litchfields milk 800 Holstein cows each year out of a total milking herd of 950 head with their flat milk supply sold into the year-round milk markets.

Mrs Litchfield said they feed the breeding herd a total mixed ration (TMR) to optimise their intake.

“By operating with a TMR we efficiently utilise our feed base with a high producing and fertile herd that best converts feed to optimise feed cost margins,” she said.

As herd numbers have grown the Litchfields are using fixed time AI programs every six weeks, and although they’re getting good conception rates they were missing returns as the needling process was disruptive to the milking process for the cows and staff.

Smart gate: Karen Litchfield said their Allflex draft gate allows them to draft cows with incredible precision.

“We knew there had to be a better way to operate. We had been aware of collar technology for some time, and that it had become more advanced and affordable.”

With this knowledge in mind the Litchfields purchased 1000 Allflex collars, which were installed in August 2018. Data is collected and extracted from sensors on the collars, which is automatically uploaded to the Allflex Heatime Pro+ software.

“We researched other companies, but the ease of operating the Allflex program is what sold us on going with them. With large herds you can’t see or know every cow but with Heatime Pro+ we can quickly and easily have information on hand about every cow to allow individual monitoring and decision making.”

Mrs Litchfield said they’re very happy with the system.

“By using Heatime Pro+ we’ve been able to reduce our days to milk by 30 days to 160. We’re also now more confident in using sexed semen through which we’ve been achieving good results.”

She said rumination tracking has allowed them to quickly identify fresh cows that are having health issues as well as other cows in the herd with low rumination.

The operation: The Litchfields’ milk 800 Holstein cows each year out of a total milking herd of 950 head with their flat milk supply sold into the year-round milk markets.

“This along with milk meters and conductivity alarms in our milking system takes any guesswork out of identifying sick cows and allows for quick and more effective veterinary treatments.

“The software is also great for singling out cows with fertility issues, allowing us to cull strategically to improve our herd efficiency.”

Mrs Litchfield said they’re also rapt with the Allflex draft gate they installed in 2018.

“Being able to accurately draft cows is very beneficial. Cows are automatically drafted each morning for the AI program, so we now go in to AI knowing confidently all cows for breeding will be in draft race. It also allows us to draft any sick cows.”

The family are also using the Allflex Tissue Sampling Unit (TSU), which is helping them quickly and easily identify A2 cows in their herd.

“We’re also looking forward to utilising the Allflex Livestock Intelligence system upgrades on the horizon, particularly the bull fertility program.”

Sexed semen efficiency boosted with collar systems

Kempsey dairy farmers Phillip and Kate Hand have seen multiple benefits using Allflex electronic collar monitoring technology in their herd and now believe it will help the efficiency of sexed semen joinings.

The Hands run around 250 head including replacements, of which they aim to milk around 130 to 140 at any given time through their nine-a-side swing over dairy across 450 acres.

“We have some Brown Swiss, Holstein and crossbreds, with a fair bit of Jersey influence in the herd,” Mrs Hand said. “We try and keep our Brown Swiss and Holstein straight and AI (artificially inseminate) them in the dairy for genetic improvement.”

They began using 50 collars 18 months ago, but have increased to 90 units for heat detection and joining, disease monitoring, herd health and wellbeing, and nutrition.

“We try to breed cows throughout the year and aim to calve down around 13 cows per month roughly, so we keep the herd fresh throughout the year,” she said.

Mrs Hand said collar data meant they were no longer relying on gut instinct and visually identification of the cow in heat.

Pregnancy test results from their vets have shown improved in-calf rates as a result of the heat detection technology.

“When managing so many cows, you don’t have time to watch all day long. You can’t argue with data – if it says it is unwell, it needs attention,” she said.

The Hands plan to genomic test their heifers and work with their Semex representative to select sires suitable to improve herd while considering value for money.

Recently genomically testing 50 heifers, the Hands will put a collar on the top 25 per cent and join them to sexed semen.

Identifying when to use sexed semen, based on whether the cow has a good strong heat, or a risky heat, may be the next step.

“You don’t want to waste (sexed semen) on a risky heat,” she said.

“The heat index is out of 100 based on how highly they rate for quality of heat. We will use information as well (strong heat, fresh, this is the first heat to breed on and so on) to say this is a good candidate for sexed semen.”

The use of the data provided by the system helps to make decisions quicker and easier, by taking out a lot of the thought processes and time spent discussing everything, Mrs Hand said.

“My husband (Phil) is happy from the perspective it is one less job he has to do,” she said. “It is usually a one-man show, with a casual milker on occasions, but my husband does everything from paddock/pasture management to milking, to AI, and feeding cows and do on.

“If we didn’t have collars, and have a cow jumping in the middle of the herd, you have to stop and try find her number and keep track of her.”

Heat detecting based off visual monitoring can be tricky, and Mrs Hand said she wanted to provide her husband with all the tools available to make the job easier and it has.

The Hands will use the extra collars on cows leading up the calving to see the benefits in monitoring rumination, activity levels and calving.

Electronic management collars boost bottom lines 

Dairy producers are optimising pregnancy rates and herd health with the use of electronic monitoring systems using special ear tags or collars.

Helping decrease labour and running costs on farm, giving more time to farmers to focus on other tasks, as well as boosting wellbeing of animals, the Allflex Livestock Intelligence dairy cow monitoring solution combines cow monitoring and livestock identification technology.

Allflex national marketing manager Kirstyn McKay, Queensland, said the functions of the collars and tags are extensive, but the most significant features that really gets a farmer’s attention are heat detection, rumination monitoring, and identifying heat stress and significant health issues.

While it is currently available and being taken up by many dairy farmers from a range of regions, beef producers will have to wait for more product development in the area to better suit Australian conditions.

“From a dairy stand point, we have dairy farms have been using the products for a long time,” she said.

The monitoring tags, either in the collar or tag form, run on a high frequency signal with their life span determined by the battery life. Ear tags last about three years, and collars seven years.

Retention rates are high, with less than one per cent lost.

“Tags being in the ear run a higher risk, but have a very high retention rate from what we know,” Ms McKay said.

“Same with the collars – improvements in woven material has made them very heavy -duty robust.”

Correct placing of the collar is important, said Mrs Russell who recommends ensuring the monitoring device sits on the left side of the animal’s neck next to the jugular with the weight hanging on the bottom.

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian agri-business award

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

Read the full article here

2020 Zanda McDonald Award Finalists Announced

Things are heating up for the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award, with one Australian and two New Zealanders announced today as the three finalists for the 2020 trophy.

The trans-Tasman award is widely seen as a badge of honour in agriculture, recognising passionate and outstanding young professionals working in the sector.

The 2020 finalists are Dr Elle Moyle, 29, from Victoria, Jack Raharuhi, 27, from Westport NZ, and James Robertson, 22, from Auckland NZ. The three were selected from a shortlist of six applicants, who were interviewed by the judging panel last month in Wellington.

Read the full article here

 

2020 Zanda McDonald Award Finalists Announced

Beef Australia – Rockhampton 6 th – 12 th May 2018

We had a fantastic week in Rockhampton at Beef Australia 2018 – http://beefaustralia.com.au/

Many customers took the time to visit us on our three sites and to enter in our “win your own monitoring device” competition and learn more about our monitoring technology.

Beef Australia Conference – Rockhampton 6th

Zanda McDonald Award 2018

At Allflex we champion future leaders in agriculture, and are proud to have sponsored the #zandaaward since Day One. Please tag in anyone you think should apply. There is a $50,000 prize package to be won!

The search is on for future leaders in agribusiness. If you’re under 35, from Australia or NZ and have what it takes, apply for the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. Applications close 24 August 2018. Details at www.pppgroup.org

Zanda McDonald Award