Heat detection for breeding
Profitability of a farm is normally tightly connected to the lactation interval of the herd. Breeding cows at the appropriate moment can have significant economic benefits for a farm.
The question here then is to calculate the cost of the heat detection software and it’s accuracy versus the cost savings and earnings of the farm. There are quite a few different technologies out there so it’s important to choose the right one.
Every farmer knows about mastitis. The disease is common in herds and it negatively affects the animal’s ability to produce milk and that of course negatively affects the farm’s profitability. As a result, detecting mastitis early has obvious benefits from an animal welfare, environmental sustainability and profitability perspective, as unnecessary use of antibiotics can be avoided. There are various cell counters on the market that can monitor the somatic cell count and give farmers a daily update so that they can react in time. These counters are well established and usually quite accurate. DeLaval, for example, is currently offering an online cell counter that works in tandem with it’s robotic milking system DeLaval VMS™ and measures the somatic cell count with an optional frequency of every cow during a milking session.
After that, there is a large list of possible technologies and their benefits will depend on a farm’s situation. “Lameness is important for farmers,” says Hallén Sandgren “but it’s not always easy to get them to buy a system, so there’s more work to do there.”
“In the future, we will see companies like DeLaval integrate more data from various different systems into one single piece of software. We do this today with Herd Navigator, for instance. Herd Navigator is an advanced milk analysis tool. An extension to your herd management system, it detects the handful of cows which really need your attention. We’re creating a situation where the farmer doesn’t have to do the analysis and interpretation but can get solid recommendations to assist her or him with running their farm,” says Hallén Sandgren.
One area where Hallén Sandgren believes significant progress can be made is in measuring feed consumption for each
individual cow, as feed efficiency is key to a profitable production. “We still don’t know what every cow is eating and how much” says Hallén Sandgren. “From feed stations, we can get a lot of information and if we can tie that into information from regular body condition scoring as well as detection of the beta hydroxybutyrate (BHBA) then we can really make progress here. You can get this from our DeLaval BCS and DeLaval Herd Navigator™ today for example (detect the BHBA molecule) but if we can combine all of that information, then we get a very good picture as to the total feed intake of every individual cow and this can lead to significant improvements in detecting cows that need attention but also provide every cow with the right feed at the right time.” In the coming years, we are likely to see additional technologies and improved versions of current technologies so precision dairy farming will undoubtedly become a larger part of every farm’s working practices. One of the opportunities is to actually more intelligently combine the data already collected by our systems and create integrated systems predicting the cows that need to be taken care of.