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Cannon Dairy

Background

Cannon Dairy, founded in 1959, has around 8,000 cows on two
farms near Idaho Falls, Idaho. About 5,500 cows are milked at
Cannon’s farm in Roberts; an additional 1,500 milking and 1,000
dry cows are kept 30 minutes’ drive away at the dairy’s Shelley farm.


Challenges

Cannon Dairy’s most pressing challenges center on its breeding
program. The dairy’s pregnancy rate used to be a fairly steady
20%, but in late 2011 it began to fall, dropping to 11% by early
2012. “We think there were a number of causes that combined,
like a perfect storm,” recalls in-house veterinarian Kevin Crandall.
“We were expanding, fghting health issues, and temperatures
were around 30° below zero for several weeks.”
Chris Crandall, Ofce Manager (and Kevin’s brother) explains:
“We needed to fnd a way to improve our breeding. We tried
every possible type of shot program, experimented with feed
changes, and made many other management adjustments, yet
nothing worked. We knew we had to fnd a better way to detect
heat.”

“Taking into account the higher number of pregnancies, fewer days open, the gains in increased production due to lower days in milk, and improved overall herd health, our payback time has already happened”
Chris Crandall, Office Manager, Cannon Dairy

System

After an exhaustive review of electronic heat detection systems,
Cannon Dairy chose the SCR Heatime Pro System, presented to them by SCR distributor Micro Dairy Logic. In May-June 2012, Cannon
installed 3,750 SCR H tags, featuring activity monitoring capabilities
for heat detection, on cows in the breeding pens at the Roberts and
Shelley farms. In early 2013, Cannon decided to switch to the new SCR

HR tags. Chris says: “The rumination monitoring was intriguing and we were hopeful it would help us improve the health of our cows, so we
switched to the new HR tags, and added another 400.”
Cannon’s 4,150 SCR Heatime HR tags are placed on cows within a day or two of calving and removed after the cow is confirmed pregnant,
anytime up to 100 days pregnant. The tags are read three times a day,

as the cows enter the milking shed. Every day, the breeders use the
heat reports generated by the SCR Heatime system to identify which
cows to inseminate. The hospital crews use the health reports to help

them identify which cows might need special attention or treatment.
In the pens, the breeders and hospital crews work together using the
SCR DataWand portable tag readers to efficiently find the cows that
the SCR Heatime system has identified for breeding or health checks.

For added efficiency, the Heatime Pro System interfaces with the
dairy’s herd management software, so that all relevant information
entered is automatically updated in the SCR system.

Benefits

Cannon has seen benefits from both the health and reproduction
aspects of the Heatime Pro System. The average number of cows
pregnant – which Chris notes is the most important number to the
dairy – is now 12% higher. This equates to a 5% increase in pregnancy

rate, raising per-cow annual revenues by about $130. Kevin further
reports that the dairy’s insemination success rate is now around 71%,
up from 60% – exceeding their goals.
As Chris summarizes: “We are finding more cows in heat and getting
more cows pregnant. And, with the rumination monitoring, the
breeders are more confident they are breeding cows in heat. It has
made training our in-house breeders much more efficient.”
Kevin adds: “I’m more confident in our ability to detect heats, so
instead of breeding cows in groups and enrolling cows in timed
breeding protocols I can individualize our reproductive program
per cow. This has been a big contributor to the increase in our reproductive efficiency.”

Cannon has reduced its use of synchronization hormones and tail
paint by around 80% since it began using the SCR system to detect
heats. “We expected that these savings alone would cover the cost
of the system within three years, and we are right on track for that,”
says Chris. “The real full payback time is actually much faster.

Taking into account the higher number of pregnancies, fewer days open, the gains in increased production due to lower days in milk, and improved overall herd health, our payback time has already happened. And from here on out we are only going to improve the quality of our herd at a lower cost of production.