Dairy Technology: What Is It?

Dairy technology on dairy farm

VetSouth are here to help you with all your on-farm technology systems.

You’ve probably all driven past a paddock of cows and wondered what those collar things round their necks are or the funny extra tags in their ears, they seem to be everywhere! If you don’t know what they are, they are individual cow technology monitors, which are rapidly gaining in popularity across many of our dairy farms. There are many different types available, including AllFlex collars and CowManager ear tags. All are slightly different but most will measure multiple parameters of cow behaviour, which can then be used to monitor individual cows and herds. This can then be used to identify health problems, find cows on heat and monitor nutrition amongst many other things.

This sudden influx of data about hundreds of cows can be quite daunting for new users of these systems. How do you know what is significant and what to do about it? At VetSouth we have a team of vets who are really enthusiastic about this technology, and we are here to help. We meet regularly to learn about the different systems, understand how to interpret the data and analyse data across multiple farms. We are aiming to feature one or two articles in each Dairy Notes focusing on a different topic each time.

So, what does a normal cow look like?

At the cow level, these technologies can measure rumination, eating, inactivity and activity (such as walking to the shed). Every cow is different, so it is important to assess a cow against herself to see if she is ‘normal’. There will be daily variation but her basic figures should stay similar across several weeks.

Here are some examples from our two most common technology platforms at the moment: AllFlex and CowManager. 

dairy technology allflex
Normal Cow - AllFlex

dairy technology cow manager
Normal Cow - Cow Manager

What about a sick cow?

Sick cows tend to have reduced rumination and eating times. The rate of decline determines how sick she is.

sick cow allflex dairy technology
Sick Cow - AllFlex

dairy technology sick cow
Sick Cow - Cow Manager

Cow in heat:

A cow on heat will have a sudden reduction in rumination with a corresponding big increase in activity.

Cow in heat - AllFlex
Cow in heat - AllFlex

Cow in heat - Cow Manager
Cow in heat - Cow Manager

This technology has huge potential for improving farm efficiency but can also be confusing. If you are a new, current or even prospective user please chat to your KeyVet. We have lots of knowledge and tools to help you make the most of your technology, from flow charts/decision trees to help you decide what to do with a sick cow to the ability to have 3rd party access your farm data so we can analyse trends and provide benchmarking against other farms. 

The VetSouth technology team is also keen to support you in whatever way you need, so please reach out and discuss how technology can help your farm. 

- Christine Utting


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