Dairy farmers could improve herd health and productivity while reducing production and vet costs, through the use of a a new generation of pedometers.

The Crysta Act+ pedometer from Fullwood contains an acceleroemeter, measuring rest or lying time as well as activity, in a bid to offer farmers a more accurate picture of animal behaviour.

The company’s technical director John Baines said: “A well-fed, healthy cow should spend a minimum of 12 to 14 hours lying down and ruminating each day.

“By detecting and monitoring activity levels including cow restlessness, the pedometer can provide early warning of a number of key cow conditions including oestrus and onset of calving, and can identify cows suffering discomfort due to poor cubicle design of lameness.”

He said heat was detected via increased standing time, while restlessness in dry cows could indicate the onset of parturition. And cows suffering discomfort as a result of poor cubicle design, often show unusual levels of restlessness, while increased lying time and prolonged periods of rest could be a sign of lameness.

“With the average herd size in the UK continuing to grow, dairy farmers and herd managers need all the help they can get to monitor the performance of individual cows and the herd as a whole,” added Mr Baines.

“Having early warning of these potential issues enables appropriate preventative measures to be taken to ensure increased milk yields, improved milk quality and reduced costs of production through lower veterinary bills. At the same time, more accurate data can also result in better herd health and higher standards of animal welfare.”