Isaac Poole took over the daunting task of contract building a 210-acre farm with 670 milking cows. The farm implemented AfiCollar and AfiFarm software two years ago to reduce manual labour and improve breeding practices.
From Tail-painting to AfiCollar
In the first year that Issac took over the running of the farm, the team used tail painting to detect when cows were in heat. This traditional heat-detection method involves applying coloured paint to a cow’s tail and observing whether it gets rubbed off by the bull’s ‘attentions’.
While this was the only semi-reliable heat-detection method available in days gone by, technology – in the form of Aficollars used together with Afifarm software – has paved the way for a more reliable, less time-consuming and less labour-intensive method of detecting which cows are ripe for insemination.
AfiCollar offers farmers accurate heat detection 24/7, helping them identify cows for timely insemination. After introducing AfiCollar on the farm, Isaac saw that it improved and streamlined the heat detection process and revealed essential information that would have been missed previously.
“The collars were finding many silent heat cows
that we would never have detected without it.”
– Issac Poole
Their artificial breeding technical team would then confirm the collars’ data. “So after that, we stopped tail painting and just started really putting full faith behind [the collars],” he enthused.
Results: Improved Conception Rate
Isaac’s team improved the herd’s conception rate by using the collar’s data to identify which cows to inseminate and the best time for insemination.
“We haven’t looked back!”
– Isaac Poole
Added Benefit: Accurate and Timely Identification of Sick Cows
Isaac’s team noticed another powerful benefit from using the AfiCollar system. Namely, the identification of potentially sick cows before any of the team noticed something may be wrong.
AfiCollar monitors and records each cow’s rumination and eating patterns. When cows stray from expected norms or their usual patterns, it is a reliable indication that something is wrong with their health. AfiCollar then alerts the farmer so they can be sorted and separated from the herd for further checks. Since using AfiCollar on Poole’s Brothers farm, many potentially sick cows have been flagged up before the farm workers noticed any signs themselves. This allows Isaac and his team to administer prompt treatment and restore the cows to full health.
The system has proven so accurate that even when farm workers did not detect any sign of sickness, they trusted the collar enough to call a vet out and nearly always found that the cow had lameness, mastitis, or subclinical problems.
It has simplified their lives a lot – “[the collar] alerts you, and then you just whip out, find [the cow], sort them out, and then save their lives.” Isaac and his team now enjoy a level of comfort they never had before.
“It helps us sleep easier at night knowing that we won’t turn up in the morning to find a deceased cow in the paddock because we missed the signs.”
Saving Time and Labor, Creating Job Satisfaction
The added bonus for Isaac and his team has definitely been the time and labor savings the AfiCollar has afforded them.
“AfiCollar saves us significantly on labor costs. Because of the technology, there’s an entire labor unit we don’t have to have in the shed for seven hours a day!”
This automation of processes that used to be extremely time-consuming and laborious has not only reduced staffing costs but has also improved the day-to-day work lives of the team. “[The AfiCollars] make a massive difference to the whole morale of your staff because it takes pressure off them,” says Isaac. “It takes a lot of pressure off myself with mating. Not having to stand for three and a half hours every morning for 11 weeks … that really drags on.”
Results On-The-Go With Afi2Go Prime
Afi2Go Prime is AfiMilk’s proprietary mobile-based software, and it helps keep farming staff out in the field. Afi2Go Prime can be downloaded onto any cell phone and can be used to receive alerts and information on any animal, on the go. Staff members can also search for an animal by typing her number or swiping their mobile phone over the AfiCollar sensor. They can also manage cows for inseminations and treatments or sort them if needed.
“I think it’s definitely the only way forward!”
AfiCollar: Changing The Way Dairy Farming Is Done
For Isaac Poole, AfiCollars have transformed how he and his team work. With the AfiCollars giving them all the information they need to make breeding and medical decisions and Afi2Go Prime putting it at their fingertips, not only does a day on the farm look very different compared to two years ago, but they are operating more efficiently too. Running this large operation has been made much easier for Poole Brothers farms and can be for you, too