Investing in Heat and Health Monitoring Systems

Improving Rumination Monitoring

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.”

Heatime® System

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.

“We now have a better understanding of each cow’s health, heat and stress parameters and can act pre-emptively to combat problems such as lameness, mastitis and poor fertility”

Olly Reed, Devon

Round the clock contact

Olly’s system maintains round-the-clock contact with all the farm’s dairy livestock, including dry cows at pasture and bulling heifers which are housed on a separate property 500 metres away from the main unit.

“It’s a really powerful system and one which fits perfectly with our robotic system,” Olly explains. “My first job each morning is to interrogate the latest health and heat reports on my phone and to assess which, if any, cows need medical attention or are ready to be served. If any cows have moved out of their ‘normal’ rumination or activity parameters, I’ll receive an automatic alert so that I can take the appropriate action.”

“We now have a better understanding of each cow’s health, heat and stress parameters and can act preemptively to combat problems such as lameness, mastitis and poor fertility,” Olly continues. “We’re currently detecting 70-80% of heats which has enabled us to tighten our calving interval to 370 days. The robots, together with the rumination and activity monitoring collars, make it easier for Olly and his small team to manage the herd very efficiently. “We’re able to easily observe each cow much more closely than before and can react to the subtlest of signals as soon as they are detected. We can even tell if we’ve fed a poor batch of silage as the whole herd will exhibit lower rumination activity. We can then take the appropriate steps to rectify the diet quickly and with minimal impact on milk yield