Labour shortages, higher payouts and a global demand for boosting dairy sustainability are all drivers behind an increased uptake of technology on farms. Data is being generated at phenomenal speed and this is a positive for the modern farmer: it increases the ability to showcase good practices, a high level of efficiency and a focus on animal welfare, environment and productivity as a whole. This in turn can be utilised to drive value, a focus that is likely behind the decision by Fonterra to sign a distribution deal with a cow monitoring company and thereby clearly get behind this movement.
Despite the term `collar` being readily used, there are several options on the market, and knowing where to start can be a challenge. Current offerings include collars, ear tags and intraruminal devices. All measure activity, rumination and/or eating time, and all offer some level of individual cow monitoring as well as average values for whole herds or mobs. Heat detection is a given, and for all brands accuracy is high and well researched. Additional features include health monitoring and an alert system that warns farm staff when a cow deviates from her normal values well before she would be found by conventional methods. But that is where the similarities end. While one brand provides virtual fencing, another will provide you with an Artificial Intelligence Assistant who speaks the language of your farm staff and will continuously learn about your herd as time goes by. The complexity of the systems is astounding, and it leaves you reeling with questions and ideas as to how this could benefit your farm.
At Vetlife we recognise that animal monitoring will be part of the future. We are committed to being a progressive practice, and we continue to adapt to developments within the dairy sector. For that reason, we now have a specialised Animal Monitoring branch that works towards supporting Vetlife clients who have made this investment into their business. Besides being available for queries and data analyses, we continue to upskill as veterinarians to support each client to make the most of their animal monitoring system, whatever the brand and location of the farm.
We will continue to share learnings from our work with animal monitoring to the benefit of all our clients.
For further questions or a discussion about animal monitoring on your farm, we would love to hear from you!