When it comes to herd management, there’s countless variables that can negatively impact performance and profitability. And the root cause isn’t always easy to see.
The farm is home to 1800 dairy cattle, with 1200 Holstein cows calving annually. Robhoek is spread across 240 hectares of irrigated ryegrass pasture and plants 60 hectares of maize for silage annually. The solutions presented here enable the farm to save costs on food and supplements as well as ensure that each cow is fed a diet tailored to its nutritional needs.
A collar worn around the neck of each cow continuously measures neck movements providing accurate real-time information regarding each cow’s rumination and eating time, and neck activity (useful in heat detection). The data from the collars allows farmworkers to extrapolate critical information regarding cow health and wellbeing in real-time.
As every dairy farmer wants his/her farm to perform to the highest level, it pays to track eating and rumination patterns so that any changes can be dealt with appropriately and any issues or problems can be quickly remedied.
A groundbreaking study carried out by the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University, New Zealand, found a powerful link between eating and rumination tracking using an Afimilk Cow collar and performance benefits on dairy farms.
As a farmer, you may know every cow in your herd by sight. You may even have named them all and know each one’s individual quirks and habits. While there are tremendous benefits to monitoring each cow individually – especially when it comes to fertility – there are situations when group monitoring is equally as important and more efficient.
The goal of every farmer is to have a profitable farm that is run efficiently and smoothly. This goal has been around for generations, but
Farmers have long been appreciated for the sacrifices they make to ensure our supermarkets are stocked with an abundance of produce. That said, the traditional image of the dairy-farmer rising before dawn to milk the cows while his dedicated wife hand-rears the calves and the kids rake out the cowsheds seems far-fetched today.
They say that timing is everything. This is definitely true when it comes to inseminating cows – the timing must be perfect in order for the insemination to result in conception.
When conception rates are maximized, cows become pregnant at the optimal time to ensure that milk production remains at its optimum level, resulting in healthy cows and a healthy bottom line for the farm. Despite the critical importance of conception rates, only 35-45% of cows get pregnant on the first insemination.
The physiological condition of any animal is reflected in the components of its body fluids, such as milk in a dairy cow. Using an optic sensor, we can measure milk composition (fat, protein, lactose and blood) for each cow during every milking.
Treating cows as individuals and going back to thinking like a cowman rather than a herdsman will optimise yields and profits, said South African dairy farmer Nigel Lok at this week’s British Cattle Breeders Club Conference, Telford.
To assure cows calve at optimal intervals and maintain milk production at peak levels of efficiency, it is necessary to constantly keep a close eye on the cows, which isn’t always an easy task. Automated heat detection systems are making this possible in today’s industry. However, most systems on the market, including AfiAct, provide the producer with more that just a heat detection tool.
When we put Leontien VandeLaar on the cover of our 2011 “Women in dairy” issue, we knew she had a powerful story – but we were blown away by just how many connected with the Indiana dairywoman.
AfiMilk won 12 million-euro tender to provide its advanced milking parlors to locations around the Eastern European country.
Dairy producers have long understood the importance of visual cues in determining cows’ fertility and health status. Since round-the-clock observation can be impractical and labor-intensive, especially on larger operations, many dairies are now turning to technology for cow monitoring solutions.
Technology takes monitoring cows at calving time to a new level. Knowing when a cow is going to calve can improve calf and cow survivability as assistance can be provided during difficult calvings and colostrum can be fed promptly after birth.
Early detection of mastitis is considered the best option to allow cows a quick recovery. Mastitis detection by seeing clinical signs, may prove challenging in large farms with high throughput or in cases of subclinical mastitis that doesn’t show clinical signs yet. New technologies automatically detect mastitis, before the cows show clinical signs.
Lameness is one of the most common and most economically destructive production diseases of dairy cows. It is associated with a reduction in milk yield and fertility and an increase in culling rate and medical costs.
The onset of estrus in dairy cattle is accompanied by changes in physiological activity, rumination and feeding behavior. These alterations can be monitored via direct observation or through the use of automatic sensors.
The Dairy Research Center at Oregon State University served as the first U.S. farm to test out a new telemetric monitoring system. The system included a leg pedometer that measured steps and lying downtime, two types of in-line probes that measured milk production, and a scale that weighed each cow after every milking.
Dairy farmer Johannes Loubser was very enthusiastic about his heat detection system in HI`s reproduction series. South Africa is not alone. Around the world, thousands of farmers trust their “assistant”, who for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, tirelessly signals which cows are in heat. Three specialists and farmers from Europe, Israel and U.S. share their experiences.
The most southern province of South Africa is called Western Cape. This region has the largest dairy operations in the country as well as the most registered Holsteins. Because the area is not suitable for the production of high-quality forage, they are very focussed on performing as well as possible in all aspects – here is their story.
Resting time is inversely correlated with milk production and directly correlated with gestation length. Based on readings of thousands of cows fitted with pedometers in multiple farms, Afimilk has measured 500 to 700 minutes per day as the normal resting time for lactating dairy cows.
Automated heat detection systems are making this possible in today’s industry. However, most systems on the market, including AfiAct, are able to provide the producer with more than just a heat detection tool.
Online evaluation of milk quality according to coagulation properties for its optimal distribution for industrial applications
Under prevailing practices milk delivered to dairy plants is graded upon reception, according to acceptable standards of hygienic quality. In most countries, these standards include upper limits on transportation temperature, bacterial counts, antibiotic residues, and SCC (McLaughlin, 2006; USFDA, 2007).
Intramammary infection (IMI), comprises a group of costly diseases affecting dairy animals worldwide. Many dairy parlours are equipped with on-line computerised data acquisition systems designed to detect IMI. However, the data collected is related to the cow level, therefore the contribution of infected glands to the recorded parameters may be over estimated
Employing AfiLab™ for commercialized real time, on-line milk separation according to its clotting properties
The composition of raw milk for a required dairy product has a direct influence on yield, taste and on process optimization. For cheese manufacturing, these are determined mainly by the level of milk constituents and it’s coagulation properties, i.e., rennet clotting time (RCT) and curd firmness (CF)
The behavior of dairy cows is dependent on the interaction between the cows and their physical environment. In the “big picture”, the physical factors of the facility (stall design, flooring type, feed bunk design, environmental quality) impose baseline limitations on how the cows will interact with the housing conditions. Within these limitations, the ability of cows to engage in natural behaviors is further dictated by management routines such as grouping strategy and stocking density
Feeding for efficient milk production leads in modern dairy practice. Efforts to maintain production and fertility at optimal levels under given market, husbandry and feeding conditions, often fail. Yet, financial
losses for an “open day” are estimated in various studies to be 2.5 to 5.0 US$.
Automated measurement of lying behavior for monitoring the comfort and welfare of lactating dairy cows
Lying behavior is often used as an indication of well-being in cattle and for evaluating the stall quality. The use of electronic data loggers to automate behavioral recording has become increasingly common
Each stage in an animal’s development is important but there are three main parts in managing females for reproduction. Develop a proper nutritional balance for growing heifers, post-partum cows, and transition cows.
Under the present prices, farmers use milk substitutes for young calves instead of whole milk, discarded milk (antibiotic or with high SCC) excluded. This amount should be reduced, and
the breach of the biological security should not be underestimated, especially in herds that adopted any disease eradication programs.
Control of production Diseases often involves various disciplines and therefore calls for a “multivariate approach”. Such an approach, centered on the herb, had led to the adaptation of integrated programs of the herd health,
Disease in fresh cows is probably the factor with the most devastating effects on milk production and reproductive performance. The objective of this study was to evaluate parameters that can be easily measured on a farm to determine their ability to detect subclinical disease in fresh cows
The objective of milking management of properly functioning milking management is to ensure that teatcups are applied to visibly clean, well-stimulated teats, that milk is harvested rapidly and efficiently, and that milking units are removed when milking is completed
Mastitis is the most costly disease affecting daily cattle. Losses occur from decreased milk production, treatment and labor costs, non deliverable milk, veterinary fees, reduced milk quality, reduced milk price, increased risk of subsequent mastitis, culling and death of the cow.
The fertility reports of the Dairy Records Processing Centers in some countries, including Israel, contain data about distribution of the length of the cows’ cycles in the herd. The percentage of “double cycles” (36-60 days) indicates above all the efficiency of heat detection.
The lower the percentage of double cycles, the greater the efficiency of heat detection. According to the HACHAKLAIT – the cooperative society for veterinary services – the goal of Israeli dairy cows’ reproductive management is less than 18 percent of double cycles.
A study was carried out to examine if computer monitoring of the dairy herd can help in the assessment of the milking routine on individual farms, to advise on possible shortcomings, and to monitor recommendations on improvements to the milking routine, particularly violations of “overriding” the ACR settings.
Body condition score (BCS) allows the cattle producers to assess the nutritional status and the changes in the energy balance of cows during various production stages. The importance of evaluation of BCS for effective dairy management is well known.
The uniform BCS system was developed in 1989 by A.J.Edmondson and simplified in 1994 by J. Ferguson at the University of Pennsylvania. The cows are typically scored on a 5-point scale from 1 indicating thin to 5 indicating obese. Recently, the dairy extension veterinarian of Illinois University R.L. Wallace described in detail in “Hoard’s Dairyman” of September 25, 2000, “What condition scoring can tell you”.
The first aim of this study was to monitor parlour performance in high producing Israeli herds using the parameter proposed by Reid and Stewart (2007) for herds milked three times daily, 55 kg milk/stall/hour. Milk yield, somatic cell count and the culling rate were monitored correspondingly.
The second aim was to examine if by increasing manufacturers default take-off settings in Israel, there will be no detrimental effect on parlour performance and udder health (SCC).
Automatically monitored behavioral (feeding and locomotor) irregularities of Israeli Holstein cows were investigated in three dairies in relation to animals’ health status and stress conditions. Feeding behavior patterns were analyzed on the base of automatic on-line recording of feeding events. Indices of feeding behavior irregularities were proposed.
Long lasted feeding behavior irregularities were accompanied by poor health related parameters: higher milk Somatic Cells Count and conductivity, greater body condition loss toward first insemination, and increased cooling rate.
“About three years ago I was in an aggressive expansion phase. For me to get a good quota, I had to get my cow numbers up quickly. When I got the chance to acquire an Ayrshire herd, I not only could up my milk production, but it also offered me the opportunity to differentiate a little bit in terms of the price I receive for my milk, Ayrshire milk being regarded as different from Holstein milk.”
The system makes it possible to take care of each cow individually, even if it is part of a very large herd. As a matter of fact, the larger the herd, the sooner the system will be able to “pay for itself”. The Afimilk dairy management system is a product of SAE Afikim, a company that has specialized in computerized systems for the modern dairy farm for the past 30 years.
Dairy farming has developed very fast in the last years in China. Many factors can influence the milk production of dairy cows, such as genetics, management, nutrition, improved technology, etc.
At SanYuan we managed to reach the highest milk production level in China in the last decade. The purpose of this article is to report our experience. Which were the main factors for this great achievement?