As farmers approach this critical time, the use of technology becomes increasingly important.
Repro season is a critical period in dairy farming as it significantly impacts the productivity and profitability of the entire operation.
As farmers approach this critical time, cow wearable technology becomes increasingly important for several reasons:
Reducing labour and time
Monitoring each cow individually can be highly labour-intensive, especially on large dairy farms. Wearable technology automates this process. It doesn’t take away the fact that you still have to look at your cows, however it does give you an extra set of eyes. It will not only alert you if a cow is potentially unwell, but will also tell you if she is on heat. This can save you hours putting on tail paint and picking the right cows for insemination.
Improving cow welfare
Stress can adversely impact the reproductive performance of cows. Wearable technology can monitor behavioural and physiological signs of stress and will give you signals very quickly, enabling you to mitigate any issues promptly. A stress-free environment can aid reproduction results.
Early detection of reproductive issues
Using wearable technology, you can detect signs of potential reproductive issues, such as silent heat or irregular cycles, much earlier than traditional observation methods. Early intervention can help treat these problems and prevent potential losses.
Optimising breeding schedule
Wearable technology aids in accurately tracking each cow's oestrus cycle. The data collected helps you pinpoint the optimal time for insemination, maximising the chances of successful conception. This ensures a steady and synchronised calving season the following year, which is crucial for maintaining a consistent milk supply.
But how does this actually work?
To start with, it's good to have a basic understanding of what is happening to a cow in the occurrence of an estrus.
It all starts with hormones influencing the animal to start acting differently. This is where you can see a cow being more active - she might be sniffing other cows, or appear more nervous, or excitable and restless. This is all part of where the cows are coming into heat. At one stage a cow will stand and allow others to mount her. This is referred to as her ‘ standing heat’.
However, the ovulation (release of the ovum/egg) does not occur until 24-32 hours after the start of standing heat.
The wearables will take this in account and calculate the optimum insemination time. So, you pick the cows on the right day and have the opportunity to use your more expensive semen or (frozen) sexed semen on a cow with the highest chance of conceiving.
Wearable technology provides you with a wealth of real-time data, enabling you to make informed decisions regarding your herd's management and enhancing the overall efficiency of your operation.
A good example of this is the once-a-day (OAD) milking strategy after calving. The wearables can help you to see if a cow is ready to go to the twice-a-day mob, or if she needs a bit more recovery time and would benefit from staying on OAD.
Cow wearables are not a silver bullet to solve reproduction issues. However, they can definitely help you in lots of ways.
If you would like to discuss your farm's repro performance and delve further into your results, get in touch with your KeyVet so we can discuss which areas need more focus for next year.