Monitor your herd and get results
"I think better control of the reproduction is the main advantage of the Herd Navigator. The ketosis warnings are also very useful, monitoring the energy balance of the fresh cows is very important, especially in large herds. And let's not forget that the time saving is significant,” says Annica Hansson, dairy production advisor in Sweden.
Annica Hansson was contacted by the Swedish Dairy Association to work as training responsible for Herd Navigator. She helps interested dairy farmers with the economics of the Herd Navigator system, and she conducts trainings in the tool's features for those who have bought and installed it.
Knowledge and realistic expectations
Her experience is that the farms that are best prepared beforehand also achieve the best results – they have great advantages of using the Herd Navigator. They have read the information and made calculations on what can be achieved and what it takes to get these results. What is a realistic expectation of what the tool can do and what do I as a dairy farmer have to do to reach these results?
"You have to change your routines; you will need to do some management changes on the farm to get the full effect of this equipment," says Annica.
Keep the energy balance
The monitoring of feeding and energy balance is very useful. If the cow is in bad condition and is not able to eat properly the farmer gets an alarm and can check what caused it.
"It is in fact rather uncommon that an energy imbalance depends only on ketosis, it can often be a uterine infection that has not been detected, or maybe the cow has hard times getting to the feeding table. If there is an alarm, the cause must be investigated. With an alarm list from Herd Navigator you have the opportunity to act earlier and in the right way, to avoid ketosis and displaced abomasums."
According to Annica the use of tools like the Herd Navigator increases the need for advice, at least when it comes to reproduction services. According to the Swedish and Danish Dairy Associations each day that the cow goes empty after 60 days costs between 10 and 15 SEK (US$ 1.5 – 2.3).
"If you have a cow that is still empty after 60 days you cannot just stand there looking at a list and do nothing, you have to react, it is costing you money. Once a cow has gone for 70 days without showing heat it is necessary to examine her."
But if the need for advice increases, do I really save any money with this tool?
Annica Hansson compares with the big herds in the United States, where they have full-time veterinarians on farm carrying out the reproduction controls. They must make sure that they have an optimal production. Even if you only have 120 cows, optimal production is equally important and through the use of Herd Navigator you learn the routines to regularly bring in advisors to control the reproduction.
"It is important to understand that Herd Navigator does not solve problems, you have to work actively with the tool to get results. This is a management tool to help you prioritize your work with the herd. You get indications of problems, but you have to fix them yourself. "
Time for other things
We must not forget that the time saving also is an important motivator. On some farms in Sweden and Denmark, where the families have small children, they no longer have as much time for keeping track of the cows. This tool will help them to save time.
"One of my clients has always wanted to have very good control of his cows, and now thanks to the Herd Navigator, he has no problem to leave the evening milking to the employees and go to his children's soccer practice, which previously would be unthinkable. Now he gets the list from the Herd Navigator, and does not have to be checking out the cows at all milkings, which he had previously done."