Maintaining a Calving Interval
For Olly Reed, maintaining a calving interval of 370 days from a herd averaging 10,000 litres is aided by the ability to closely scrutinise each cow’s rumination and fertility status and react promptly to any signs of ill health or undue stress. Olly farms with his parents, Andrew and Wendy, at France Farm, Cullompton, Devon where they have recently constructed a greenfield dairy unit with 160 cows housed all year round and milked by three Lely robots. Monitoring rumination and activity via Allflex Heatime® collars Olly has increased cow longevity and reduced potential financial losses associated with mastitis, lameness as well as other sub-clinical ailments which impact on fertility and overall herd productivity. “Only cows not in calf were fitted with a collar,” Olly explains. “As soon as each cow was back in calf, the collar would be taken off and put onto the next dry cow. It was a system which worked well helping us to observe quiet and silent heats, but we couldn’t build up a complete picture of each cows performance through her subsequent pregnancy and lactation.”
A comprehensive farm modernisation programme was completed. “The aim was to modernise the farm’s housing and milking facilities and to make the entire system easier to manage,” Olly continues. At the same time as installing three new robot milking systems Olly also upgraded the herd’s heat detection collars. “We’re now using the Heatime® system from Allflex which detects subtle movements associated with rumination and heat activity. The tag relays this information back to a computer which converts the data to calculate various health parameters and heat predictions.