We see a huge benefit from cow collars on dairy farms.
They can really help in stock management, health and breeding. Some clients have been using the collars for up to four years now and really love them. They integrate with Minda and Milk Hub DTS systems and allow easy data collection and drafting.
Clients use them for picking cows on heat. They are automatically drafted for AB and help when skilled staff for this role are not available, or busy with other work. We have been surprised by cows that the collars indicate are on heat, and don’t necessarily show bulling signs, are actually on, ready to put up, and show up in calf to that mating at scanning time.
Non cyclers are also identified by the system and allow farms to operate without premating tail paint if they choose. We have found that clients have been able to get away without tail paint during AB too, as heats are identified with the collars.
Returns that are coming up at intervals other than three-weekly, are detected and help staff avoid missed heats.
Health events have been detected with the collars. Diseases alerted by the collars have ranged from metritis cases and dirty cows, cows off color with catarrh and hardware disease. We have found that the number of cows that are drafted for checking out, but have nothing wrong with them, is low. Identifying cows that are infected with IBR virus, or other subtle infections can be very helpful, as these infections can impact milk yield and fertility. Finding the scale of such problems, enables preventative vaccination programs to be started, when warranted.
Herds that don’t have mastitis sensors will find that some mastitis cases will be revealed and allow early prompt treatment that may have been missed otherwise. We even had a herd affected by nitrate poisoning that showed up on the collar alerts, that would likely have been missed for some time otherwise.
Collars can be set up to allow drafting mobs, for example colostrum cows that are being milked once a day for eight milkings can be programmed to be drafted into the milking herd without paint marking systems.
There is real scope for good data collection about herds, that may allow farms both to do better by their cows and to cope with staffing shortages on farm.