When Brännfors Lantbruk expanded the herd it became more difficult to keep track of the cows, and they fell behind with the inseminations. They found a way to monitor their cows with less effort, improving the herd's reproduction and health.
Brännfors Lantbruk in Sweden has expanded a lot in recent years. In 2007 they made a major investment and built for an additional 100 cows. The bigger herd made it difficult to keep track of the animals. They fell behind with the inseminations and did not get the number of pregnancies they expected. Going from a family farm to a bigger operation was a big step
In the Herd Navigator the Holmberg family saw the possibility to overcome these problems. What convinced them was the reproduction control, although they also saw other benefits, like the monitoring of ketosis and urea.
Looking at the right cows
At Brännfors Lantbruk they start the day by looking at the observation lists from the Herd Navigator. This takes around ten minutes. The lists tell them which particular cows they should keep an eye on during the day, they show detected heats and ketosis and mastitis alarms. After this they take a walk around the barn to observe the cows that have been pointed out, using their knowledge and experience to judge when the time is exactly right to inseminate. Often Samuel Holmberg looks at the lists in the evening as well.
“The system is easy to use, with lists and features that are easy to locate. I like the structure, and that I can easily create my own lists,“ says Samuel Holmberg.
“But,” he adds, “you need to have some computer knowledge and a willingness to learn.”
Taking action in time
What they monitor closest at Brännfors Lantbruk is the progesterone level, since they have many cows to inseminate. Samuel is very pleased with the reproduction control they now have, the pregnancy rate has improved a lot. Ketosis monitoring has also proved to be very useful.
“Initially, when I was still a bit inexperienced, I didn’t quite understand what the graphs showed. I remember seeing a ketosis curve go up. I took no action, and suddenly the cow stopped milking. Of course, then I realized what a useful tool the Herd Navigator was. Now I know how to interpret the curves and take action in time and that way I can avoid production loss.”
Early warnings of health and energy balance problems
They’ve had no major problems with mastitis on the farm, only a few cases. When there is a mastitis indication on a cow they increase the milking interval so that the cow is milked more times per day. Often the curve turns down again and the animals can recover by themselves. If however the problem persists and they see that there is bacterial growth, they move the cow to a group with weaker udder health. On this farm they group the cows according to animal health.
The Herd Navigator system helps them find feeding-related problems of which they were previously unaware. They can now detect subclinical ketosis on the graphs at an early stage, and can take the appropriate action.
“Overall, the herd’s health has improved with the Herd Navigator, because we can take action early, before the problems grow too big. We can be pro-active and prevent feed-related problems.”
Has it made their operation more profitable?
Samuel Holmberg says that life has become easier with the Herd Navigator, that it gives them good control with little effort. They have not done an exact calculation, but they are quite sure that they save a lot of money thanks to this investment. Firstly, he says, because you can inseminate on time - every empty day costs money, and secondly because you can handle the feeding disorders and also find the mastitis cases.
“Profitability is good. We get good value for money. But you have to invest money where you have your weaknesses.”
Farm owners: 4 partners: (Samuel (son), Peter (son), Lennart (father) and Ellie (mother) Holmberg)
Employees: 5 full-time
Milk production: Above 11 000 kg ECM (Energy Corrected Milk) per cow / year
SCC (Somatic cell count): 150 000