Driving dairy farm productivity through animal and farmer well being
Gippsland dairy farmer Luke Wallace, who along with his wife Mel and their family milk approximately 200 head of Jersey cows on their 194-acre dairy farm Wallacedale Jerseys.
Around 3 years’ ago Luke made the decision to install the Allflex Dairy Cow Monitoring collars to measure animal behaviour, rumination, illness and heats and has seen numerous benefits since the collars were installed.
“90% of what I use the collars for is heat detection. We don’t use any tail paint, or other heat detection devices or stickers at all. We purely rely on the collars and I’ve found the collars are picking the heats better than what I can.”
The increase in picking up heats has been a large help to Luke’s operations, “The collars pick up the heats you would miss overnight and it tells you when the ideal time for joining is. I can check it on my phone, I’ve got the app on my phone wherever I am. This has certainly helped us get more cows pregnant quicker, which gives us excess stock to sell. I did the numbers on that and I think by the end of this season I reckon it would have pretty much paid for itself, just in the heat detection side of it.”
Picking up illness or lameness is another benefit for Luke, “Monitoring a fresh cow is probably the most important part of the health side of it. The system is going to pick up sick cows for you sooner. You can treat them quicker, which is better for the cow, meaning less treatment and cost savings.”
“It definitely picks up lame cows, often quicker than you would pick it up visually. Usually it’s just a gradual thing that the cow gets a sore foot but it will tend to pick it up before I can actually see them limping.”
“The system enables the cows to get treated quicker if there’s something wrong with them. The sooner you can help them out the quicker they recover. If we look after our animals they look after us. We rely on them for our income and they rely on us to keep them fit and healthy.”
Monitoring of the cow’s health and heats remotely has given Luke peace-of-mind, “On the last holiday we had, a couple of times I used the health part of the system to alert my Dad, who was minding the farm for us. I was able to call Dad and get him to check a cow that came up on the alerts. I can just forget about it and didn’t have to hope he’d seen it.”
Linking the collars to the auto draft system is something Luke is looking forward to in the future to help get some time back, “If I want to go and watch one of the kids play basketball in the afternoon, I know that when I get home, the cow that’s on heat, that’s ready to be joined is in the side yard waiting for me. It’s trying to get that balance, that’s what we’re trying to do now is see if we can milk less cows, automate things more, we’re just trying to do things smarter.”
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Luke and Mel’s Wallacedale Jerseys’ Dairy Farm please visit Wallacedale Jerseys Facebook page.