10 Advantages of Mobile Technology for Your Breeding Program
Producing high-quality milk from healthy cows depends on your ability to raise replacement heifers. Mobile technology is the latest tool for a successful breeding program.
Now with real-time data, you can increase the success of your program through more effective sire selection, heat detection, insemination, and evaluation of your young stock program.
1. Sire Selection
Capture cow-specific information for any sire by recording the history of successful inseminations, live births, and calving difficulties on your farm.
You can also track maternal sire data like daughter calving ease and daughter stillbirth rate. Dairy health experts now agree that these are also important factors in matching sires and cows.
Records can be synced between multiple devices within the barn (for example the breeding managers phone and a main computer). This makes it easier to update information on-the-go and gives data access to anyone who might need it through linked devices or email sharing.
2. Heat Detection
Heat detection now takes several forms, including pedometers, video surveillance, and even e-pills. Of course, there are still the more traditional methods such as tail paint and visual monitoring by herdsmen.
Mobile technology has the advantage of gathering data 24 hours a day. Alerts can be sent your phone or emailed to a computer. Since timing is critical, this can ensure your cows are inseminated when they should be.
Date tracking is also easy with mobile technology. When a cow doesn’t get inseminated during a heat, the next one can be estimated based on the cow’s history. This date can be added to an electronic calendar and synced between devices. Custom breeding event notifications can also be used as reminders of when that particular cow should be in heat.
3. Negative Energy Balance and Ketosis
In Europe, on average 35% of any dairy herd is affected by subclinical ketosis. This can result in low conception rates. If the cow does become pregnant, she will likely have a serious problem with negative energy balance during the transition period. This can potentially lead to clinical ketosis.
Small, handheld devices are now available to measure the level of ketone bodies from a blood, milk, or urine sample. Checking for ketosis a few days prior to the estimated heat date can make sure you aren’t throwing money away or putting a cow at risk by trying to inseminate a cow that shouldn’t become pregnant.
4. Rearing Program Assessment
Record data from your first lactation heifers to track how successful your heifer management is. Helpful data includes yield and SCC during lactation, DMI, calving problems, weight and age at insemination, and calf weight.
Information like yield and SCC can be automatically collected in the parlor by inline meters, and other factors can be recorded manually. Once compiled into electronic records, the data can be shared and flow into decisions for your heifer rearing program.
Mobile technology can also reduce the amount of labor needed to monitor various pens. Video surveillance and e-pills can monitor sick cows for temperature changes, activity level, and rumination. Calf pens and transition cows can be monitored in the same way.
For calving, video surveillance can be used to monitor the cow, allowing her to give birth without interruption, but ensuring that assistance can be provided when necessary.
6. Action Lists
Real-time data and mobile technology can be used to automatically generate action lists for cows requiring veterinary attention, insemination, drying off, or any number of other milestones. These lists can be synced and shared with staff so that everyone is kept in the loop, and ensure that no cows are missed.
7. Herd and Group Trends
With real-time data like SCC and yield being collected 24/7, you can generate detailed charts that show trends within the herd or specific groups. Examples could be SCC trends in your first lactation heifers, or seasonal yield variations in the whole herd.
8. Linking Impaired Reproduction with other Diseases
Data like SCC, ketosis levels, and yield gathered over long periods of time can be used by managers or vets to investigate possible links between diseases like mastitis, ketosis and lameness and impaired reproduction.
9. Production Indexing
SCC and yield data can be used to generate production index lists. You can take into account age, lactation stage and calving time, and this allows you to equally compare animals within the herd.
10. Buying, Selling, and Culling Information
Having all this data at your fingertips can help improve your decision-making process. Having your entire herd’s data available on your phone can help you see how potential purchases will fit within your herd. Production index lists can also help you determine culling thresholds.
Are you ready to reap the benefits of real-time data and mobile technology? Click here to view and Dairy Quality Inc.’s instant, on-farm testing devices and learn how they can help you and your farm.
About the Author
Anna Schwanke is an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She is responsible for researching and writing about a wide variety of topics related to dairy cow welfare and management for Dairy Quality Inc. The 10 years she spent living in Australia, as well as her love of travelling, give her a firsthand viewpoint of issues facing the international dairy community. She plans to graduate from the University’s College of Physical & Engineering Science in 2019 and pursue a career in the Life Sciences or Agriculture industry.
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