Happy cows, happy farmers

“The most remarkable thing I have noticed is that after two months the farmers stop talking about heat detection. They start trusting the system more than their own observations. And from what I see they are right in doing so.”

Nico Vreeburg, a veterinarian at Vetvice in Holland, has worked with management support for farmers using the Herd Navigator for two and a half years. He explains to the farmers how the system works and helps them make the right decisions based on the data the system provides. 

He currently works with ten Dutch farms using the Herd Navigator, and he is very positive about the system.

“Getting the data out of a management system is one thing, but to implement the results with the farm goals you have in mind is quite another,” he says.

Reproduction under control and ketosis problem surfaces

All heats are detected by the system, and the focus is then on the time of insemination. The standard frame after a detected heat is to inseminate 24 to 36 hours after the alarm. At some farms they switch to a later SOP (Standard of Procedure) of 30 to 42 hours after heat is detected.

In two to three months time the reproduction program is handled entirely by the system, and that is when the producers start noticing that they have a lot more cows with ketosis than they believed. Treatment of a ketosis at an early stage is very simple, as a cow with a beginning energy problem is quite easy to get on the right track again, without losing milk or body weight, and the farmers realize that there is a lot to be gained here.

“After a year, the first two farmers I worked with both said that they had earned a lot of money from the early treatment of ketosis cow,” says Nico.

These ketosis alarms have also been useful in pointing out to the farmers and their feed advisors that there is a need to put more focus on rations and transition management.

Management support tool to improve control

According to Nico this system is a tool for good managers who want to have even more control over their results. If they use it correctly as a management support tool, by taking the data, interpreting it, implementing the necessary changes, judging the results and setting new goals, they will have more control over their reproduction results. He says he finds the farmers who uses and trusts the Herd Navigator for heat detection much more relaxed.

“This is a precise way of managing individual cows and a good tool for precision management of the whole farm,” Nico says.

Healthier cows

The cows will be healthier since they have less secondary problems, such as BCS loss, milk loss, infetions, all caused by lack of energy. There will also be less need for hormone treatments, since the individual reproductive status can be followed day by day. The mastitis treatment is also better, with early, shorter and more efficient treatments with antibiotics.

“If the girls are treated and changes in rations and management are made to prevent new cases, then all cows on the farm will be happy.”

Future development

Nico is hoping that the development continues and that Herd Navigator and other automation systems will gather even more data which can be used on the farm to make life easier and more enjoyable. This will also mean that the lives of our high producing cows would get better. He also hopes that systems can be integrated and that things like milking robots, separation gates and concentrate feeders can be controlled by the results of Herd Navigator.

“The use of Herd Navigator makes it possible to take a huge step forward in the control of the farm’s results. It is fun to work with and it helps the cows to have a better life. Happy cows, happy farmers. That is the Vetvice slogan.”


Monica Wadsworth

Monica Wadsworth
85 articles

Writer at Milkproduction.com

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