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Publication: Dairy Farmer Publication Date: 28-JAN-04 Format: Online - approximately 1355 words Article Excerpt Big Brother, minus the diary room, could soon be coming to a cubicle shed near you. Angela Rhodes reports on a new surveillance system which looks set to revolutionise heat detection in large herds.Heat detection rates are running at an all-time low in many dairy herds with only one in four cows that are on heat each cycle actually getting in calf. This decline looks set to continue as cow numbers per man increase and time for heat detection decreases. But help may be at hand in the form of a new surveillance system which provides round the clock monitoring and recording of oestrus activity and can deliver heat detection rates of 95-100% accuracy, putting it on a par with progesterone testing.The 4Sight system has been developed by Ulster-based agritech business Fionn Technologies and has already been trialled successfully by the Agricultural Research Institute Northern Ireland (ARINI) at Hillsborough. Although the technology is patented and the supporting software is copyright protected, Fionn's Business Development director Declan O'Hare is reluctant to give too much away about the finer details of the system.But in simple terms it operates like a security system using close circuit cameras and movement activated sensors - the clever part is what it then does with the images it collects. "The system is supplied as a modular kit which is designed to provide 100% coverage of the cow accommodation including the collecting yard and parlour," explains Mr O'Hare. "Surveillance cameras and optical electronic sensors are fixed around the building to provide 24-hour monitoring of the cows."The system has been designed to recognise specific `cow shaped' breaks in the sensor beams so it is not triggered by staff or machinery moving around. When the optical sensors detect mounting behaviour the cows are caught on camera and specialist software can then match the digitised picture to the herd database in the computer.
Each cow is photographed when she enters the herd and the database stores individual cow images. The system gets round the problem of having to sift through the images for the whole herd by drawing on stored fertility data to narrow down the search by discounting cows that are confirmed in-calf or dry."In very large herds it may be more practical to identify the cows by the numbers on their collars or possibly even using a barcode freezebrand on their flanks," says Mr O'Hare.Having recorded the oestrus activity and identified the cows, the central computer can either provide a date/time stamped photo, video footage or, in very large commercial herd situations, a simple printout listing the times for each cow on heat."By providing specific times of standing heats it is then possible to plan insemination times more accurately and, as a result increase the chances of the cow holding to service," comments Mr O'Hare.
"Once installed the 4sight system has been shown to deliver a payback of 12-15 months in a 400cow herd and on one farm is expected to lift yield by more than 1500 litres a cow a year.which can be housed for the 150 days or so immediately post-calving for heat activity to be detected." Northern Ireland firm Fionn Technologies. has since improved heat detection from 50% accuracy to almost 99% and reduced calving interval from 450 days to about 380 days. so this system greatly improves the chances of catching her. "With such a large herd we were missing heats. while increasing the number of pregnancies a day. some cows were showing erratic heats and AI timing was consequently under pressure. the Goodwin's felt a more radical and innovative approach to tackling the problem was needed and one that could reap early rewards. "We simply turn the screen on and check which cow needs serving. he adds. helping free up labour for other farm tasks. in the average UK herd poor fertility costs about 170 a cow from lower milk yields." The computer screen shows the exact start time of activity recorded against each cow number and the ideal time for serving at 14 -24 hours post-activity.. says that while it compares well with other heat detection tools. Mr Goodwin says the beauty of the system is that once installed there is a significantly reduced need for labour. To keep the failure to conceive (FTC) culling rate down. more genetically valuable cow that you really want to get in-calf that will have these short heats. "It works by acting as an auto ID system recognising each individual cow. believes that herds like this often have heat detection rates of less than 50% and conception rates of 20% or so. the system helps identify the genuine nonbullers that require veterinary attention much more quickly than would be expected with herdsman based heat detection. excerpts from the Farmers Weekly Two lines of photosensitive cells." Having used a series of heat detection tools in the past. they must be considered on a farm-by-farm basis."This means they can be back cycling more quickly and have more chances to be served particularly if they are in. which perhaps were previously neglected because of heat detection duties. 100% Heat Detection now a reality Northern Ireland Based company have invented a high tech method of heat detection. helping save The system has also helped reduce the number of services required for each pregnancy. says William. We then pick the right time to suit the farm staff according to the window of time set by the computer. while feeding back information to a PC in the farm office showing which cows are displaying either primary or secondary signs of heat activity. "All maintenance is carried out remotely by broadband connection from the manufacturer in Northern Ireland. and it has the advantage over pedometers of providing irrefutable visual evidence that the cow was standing.350 cows plus . Comprising overhead optic sensors in cow housing and the milking parlour that trigger a surveillance system. something Mr Goodwin feels has been a big benefit to all farm staff. a beam running the length of the cattle shed and a visual camera detecting cows' every movements." Consultant Dick Esselmont.. as each installation is bespoke to that unit. the 4sight system. says the company's spokesman. extra services and increased culling. It may sound like a sc-fi film. so once installed we don't have to touch it. "The outcome in such herds is a calving interval ." remarks Mr O'Hare. For William and James Goodwin of Hill House Farm. but in reality it is the answer to many dairy farmers' prayers in combating heat detection and fertility problems. And although costs would appear expensive. Apart from providing definitive evidence of cows on heat. "However. fertility has been an ongoing issue in their 650-cow Holstein Friesian herd for some time."Our experiences with the time-stamped images have highlighted just how few times some cows actually show bulling activity and at what obscure times of the night that it can happen. it is better suited for larger herds . such farmers now give cows as many as 420 days after calving to get in calf. who has been calculating cost benefits of the system in place at Lindfield. installed nine months ago. Lindfield. It also does away with the uncertainty that surrounds heat mount detectors that get missed or have been triggered by cows just messing around. rather than just alerting the stockman to go and check for bulling activity." An additional advantage of the system is that nothing has to be applied to the cow so it is less hassle for the herdsman and much less stressful for the cows. "Quite often it is the high-yielding.
New technologies for the solution of this problem must be more effective than visual observation and aids currently used to detect estrus.000 a year alone. In a 620-cow herd. Pages 2745-2753 Article The Estrus Detection Problem: New Concepts. technologies that provide the solution for detection problems should provide the following: continuous (24 h/d) surveillance of the cow. Senger1. says vet Rob Drysdale. By lifting heat detection rate to 90% and by increasing conception rate to 50% (through improved accuracy of insemination timing). the predicted effect is to lift yields by 1500 litres a cow a year." The system is also capable of remembering how each cow displays oestrus. "The 4sight system has allowed us to work with William and James to manage the herd's fertility in a more structured and accurate manner. Failure to detect estrus or erroneous diagnosis of estrus results in an estimated annual loss of over $300 million to the dairy industry in the US. these benefits are estimated to be worth £236. .000 in total or 3. a The single most important problem limiting high reproductive efficiency in the national dairy herd is poor detection of estrus." Journal of Dairy Science Volume 77. "In the Goodwin's herd this would be worth £30." of 470 days or so and an FTC culling rate of 20%. Mr Esselmont predicts 4sight should reduce vet costs by £30 a cow a year and labour costs by £20 a cow." he reckons. accurate and automatic identification of cows in estrus. and surface -applied and implantable pressure sensors are in various stages of development and use. New approaches are aimed at providing automation of detection of estrus using electronic technology. meaning the payback period for installing 4sight is calculated to be just 12 months. operation for the productive lifetime of the cow.L. implantable impedance sensors. and high accuracy in identifying the appropriate physiologic or behavioral events that correlate highly with ovulation. Pedometry. "Calving interval should drop to 380 days or so and FTC culling to 2%. minimized labor requirements. September 1994. who has been working through the installation with the Goodwins.valuable labour and reduce AI costs. Issue 9. Ideally. Semex UK has launched a new breeding management package Semex AI-24. picking out cows that may be anoestrous or unwell and treating them accordingly. New Products August 10th 2007 BREEDING management package: Following the acquisition of an exclusive distribution contract for the Heatime fertility detector.7p/litre. and Possibilities P. Technologies. In a large herd like this.
including bio-security. Researchers have generally attributed . showed heat detection rates dropped to 41. an electronic heat detection system active 24 hours a day. for example.5 per cent in 1999 from 50. Dairy Cow Heat DetectionAuthor: Blair Murray . Higher milk production is related to negative energy balance. will be an integral part of Semex AI24. Holstein herds. yet estrus detection rates have decreased in recent years. and Semex Technical. enabling farmers to monitor cows all day long and immediately identify those ready for insemination and those who are not cycling and need attention. the company s portfolio of pedigree and non-pedigree semen.9 per cent in 1985.S. Heat detection is basic to reproductive success in artificially bred dairy herds. manufactured by Fabdec and now exclusive to Semex. A study of southeastern U. which occurs when cows simply can't eat enough to replace body weight used to produce milk. your success rate drops even more.000 bulls. Heatime. Wisconsin researchers report that high-producing cows are in estrus for a shorter period of time than lower producing herdmates. Semex DIY. technical advice and support on all aspects of reproduction management. the computer mating system with a database of over 80. frequent heat detection routine could detect standing heats more successfully. Reduced heat detection success tends to be blamed on increased herd sizes and more cows per person. as well as higher milk production per cow. If you routinely check for heat only once or twice per day. A regular.The company is marketing the package as a total breeding management concept aimed at empowering producers to take better control of breeding activities in order to be more efficient and cost effective. The package is made up of five elements: SemexHeatime. an insemination training programme for farmers. the SemexPromate.Dairy Genetic Improvement Specialist/OMAFRA Creation Date: June 2006 Last Reviewed: 4 June 2010 New University of Wisconsin research has concluded that your chances of success for detecting heat in high-producing cows is just over half the rate for average milking animals. Semex Stud.
Milo Wiltbank and associates in Wisconsin studied lactating dairy cows to measure duration. and the amount of milk given 10 days before the day of estrus. with more mounts during the shorter time period.2 hours on average. not overall lactation milk.4 kilograms of milk per day.8 mounts versus 6. The HeatWatch system let researchers record number of mounts and how often they occurred. When the cows were grouped according to high and low production. the lower production group averaged 8. the genetic component in cow fertility performance tends to be small. This leads to the question of whether shorter estrus durations make heats more difficult to detect. and allows continuous monitoring and recording of mounting activity. Still. were in estrus 6. However. . Dr. compared with the lower production group at 10. Researchers made comparisons according to lactation number.9 hours. days since calving.delayed first ovulation and smaller follicle size-factors contributing to reduced fertility rates-to negative energy balance. The high group had more intense mounting activity. They used the HeatWatch system that fits cows with radio transmitters. estrus duration [standing to be mounted] was shorter for the high-production group.3 for the high-producing group. Some interesting and challenging information about estrus events revealed by this study included: 15 per cent of recorded estruses consisted of only one standing event. This group. with a range of 50 days when heat detection didn't start until 165 days. That let them make sure the production level was linked closely to when the estrus occurred. They checked ovulation by ultrasonic exam for all detected estruses. estruses with recorded standing events-two or more-were detected on average 93 days after calving. There was a negative correlation between milk production and estrus duration. averaging 46. Part of the negative relationship between fertility and high milk production may be genetic. the researchers found. The study monitored 267 early-lactation cows housed in a free-stall barn and milked twice daily.
the success rate drops to 50 per cent probability. An important consideration in managing lactation and calving intervals is to maintain the dry interval at 40 to 70 days. Wiltbank's study provides another one. Cows that showed no standing activity had higher production. On the first ovulation 50 days after calving.6 per cent. Circulating progesterone levels tend to be low in high-producing cows as well. With four-times-per-day heat detection.6 standing events. This suggests your breeding program may be more succes if you sful intensify heat detection and breeding between 95 and 120 days. Other considerations for successful heat detection include: . standing events lasted only 25 seconds per estrus on average. although their ovaries tend to have higher-than-average amounts of progesterone-producing luteal tissue. It could explain the reduced estrus activity. Wiltbank used the data from this study to predict the probability of successfully detecting standing heat in a cow based on her milk production. with an average of 7. It is also interesting to note in this study that cows exhibited recordable standing behaviour at 93 to 95 days after calving on average. the HeatWatch system detected no standing activity among 41 per cent of the cows. and results are even poorer when heat detection is carried out just once or twice a day. Modelling done as part of this research showed high-producing cows metabolize more estradiol and progesterone through their livers. Many theories have been put forward to explain why high-producing cows have poorer fertility. He and his team measured circulating levels of reproductive hormones in the cows and found that high-producing animals tended to have lower levels of estradiol and progesterone. Recent CanWestDHI data indicate this practice doesn't harm overall profit. they are less available to do their job. For cows producing 45 kg per day.average duration was 8. A dry period longer than 70 days has been shown to reduce overall production. the probability of success is about 90 per cent for cows producing about 35 kilograms of milk per day.7 hours. Estradiol affects how well a cow shows heat signs. Since this removes reproductive hormones from circulation more quickly. and only one standing event among 52.
81:209-223. Proceedings of Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference. H. M. Sartori.frequent. using timed insemination to supplement a heat detection program or replace it entirely. Lopez. regularly timed observation of high producing cows. Indiana.. giving you less opportunity to spend on routine milking herd management. Grexton. and A Gument. 2006. Rodenburg .Dairy Genetic Improvement Specialist/OMAFRA . 2006. Wiltbank. References Lopez. B. Relationship between level of milk production and estrous behaviour of lactating dairy cows. Positive and negative Effects of High Energy Consumption on Reproduction in Lactating Dairy Cows. June. Murray . Fort Wayne. spring and early summer put heavy demands on your time. H. choosing times when and places where cows tend to exhibit mounting behaviour. April 25-26.. Bear in mind that cows may only show standing heat for four to six hours and actual standing events may last 25 seconds in total. This article first appeared in the Ruminations column of The Milk Producer Magazine. reviewing when you begin breeding cows for the first time after calving and when you have the most success..Dairy Cattle Systems Program Lead/OMAFRA. Lactation Length . 2006. Last Reviewed: History: Written by: June 2010 New J. Re-examine your procedures and change them as needed to ensure the best odds of successful heat detection. Animal Reproduction Sci. R. Delaying breeding by a cycle combined with an efficient program to heat detect and breed cows may be more efficient. using records to advantage to help identify cows most likely to be in heat. using electronic heat mount detectors. B. On many dairy farms. LD Satter and MC Wiltbank.is 305 days a myth? 2005 CanwestDHI Progress Report. 2004. tail chalking and die patches to identify mounting activity that otherwise goes unnoticed.
or leg . seven days per week. the period of mounting activity lasts an average of 5. Heat Detection Heat detection rate is a key factor in determining pregnancy rate and reproductive success in a dairy herd. An activity monitor is attached with a strap to the cow's neck (Figure 1). This area has the most opportunity for improvement in dairy herds. and improve individual cow care and management through the use of technology.PDF Version (264 KB) Pedometry offers the opportunity for medium. and failure to accurately detect estrus costs the dairy industry millions of dollars each year. offer excellent control and timing of breeding. and addresses some of the 20% of cows that are anestrus in early lactation. the need to maintain strict protocols and the reliance on drug treatments. at the same time. The biggest challenge to systematic heat detection is to be able to carry out observations consistently when required every day. one of several precision dairy management tools that are providing opportunities to save labour.8 hr.to large-sized dairy herds to improve heat detection and. Accurate heat detection requires observation of the herd by a trained individual three to four times per day. Activity monitors may be neck. on the other extreme. The pedometrydata . and some cows only stand to be mounted one to two times per heat cycle. Synchronization protocols and timed AI. Heat detection efficiency in dairy herds is less than 50%. A pedometer is a motion-detecting and recording device. as well as the opportunity to schedule workload. The downside is cost. Figure 1. reduce dependence upon labour.mounted. The decision to breed a dairy cow is dependent upon using one of three management systems: y y y systematic observational heat detection synchronization and timed artificial insemination (AI) use of pedometry or activity monitors In high-producing cows. How Activity Monitors Work A pedometer is mounted by a strap around a cow's lower leg to detect and record motion such as walking.
Cows should be considered for breeding within 12-24 hr of being identified with increased activity by the pedometer system. Investing in a $14.000 per year.000 standalone monitoring system would pay if labour on the farm is valued at $8/hr or higher. and the data are recorded in a dedicated computer. strictly on a cost-per-cow basis.000 investment in an activity monitor system would break even in labour replacement costs alone.000 if added to an existing parlor ID system. a $30. which is not the case with synchronization protocols. activity monitors attain better heat detection rates than strictly observational methods. . number of readers and number of monitors. an observational heat detection program costs about $6. Text Equivalent of Figure 2 System Costs Initial investment in a pedometer or activity monitor system can be significant. Spikes in activity associated with heat cycles compared to days in milk. Prices will vary. Pedometers and activity monitors provide the opportunity to identify cows coming into estrus while reducing the dependency upon labour. With arm's length farm labour costs of $13-$16/hr. Cows show increased activity prior to the onset of standing heat by a factor of two to four times normal. Software is used to create reports on the activity of each cow over previous time periods.5% interest over 7 years. Studies have shown 80%-85% heat detection rates with pedometers when one animal is in heat and up to 90% when two or more are in heat. At 6.000 for a standalone system or an additional $30. Figure 2 shows how the cows activity levels spike associated with heat cycles compared to her days in milk. Figure 2. the activity monitor program tends to be much cheaper and also has some economies of scale.in the monitors on each cow are accessed by a reader device. which would be further justification over savings in labour costs. Typically. When compared to a synchronization program. The initial capital cost can be justified in improved heat detection and labour savings. depending upon features of the system. at about $14.
Pedometer systems have a higher capital cost. although some may be standalone as well. or a synchronizationbased program with less reliance on injections and high associated costs per cow. for managing the dairy herd. but they are a reasonable economic alternative to visual heat detection with its costly labour component. along with other production data. may be related to metabolic disorders. such as increases followed by decreases. Pedometer/Activity monitor systems and related software provide valuable management information. Other patterns of activity.Other benefits of an activity monitor system include the tracking of activity over a number of days and its integration with other production information on each cow to assist in management decisions. especially as a replacement to labour in a traditional visual heat detection system with as good and frequently better heat detection rates. Sudden decreases in activity may indicate the onset of lameness or other illness. . Summary Pedometers or activity monitors provide an alternative for heat detection in freestall-housed dairy herds. Pedometry systems tend to be integrated with milking parlour data systems.
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