Pedometers allow bigger herd and smaller vet bills
By Jeremy Hunt
PEDOMETERS fitted to cows feet in a Cheshire herd have had a huge impact on management awareness and allowed a 70% increase in cow numbers, without employing additional labour.
Peter Harrison now runs 340 pedigree Holstein cows in his herd at Woodlake Farm, Tattenhall.
He told a Fullwood milking technology Press briefing in Shropshire: "We have increased cow numbers by 140 head, but havent employed more labour.
"Pedometers are now an integral part of our day-to-day herd management. They provide us with an up-to-the-minute picture of exactly what is happening to every cow in terms of her health and production.
"Our 24-day submission rate increased from 60 to 80% after we fitted the pedometers; being able to monitor individual cow behavioural patterns has brought significant welfare benefits. Vets bills are also low, now that we are totally in control of fertility and mastitis detection."
The pedometers, which were first fitted to Mr Harrisons cows in 1994, are used in conjunction with the Fullwood Fusion/Afimilk software computer program.
"The cows twice daily visit to the parlour enables the system to collect data from pedometers. We log into the softwares herd health report each day and data gathered ensures that we know exactly what is going on.
"Data collected over the previous 10 days by the system is analysed to identify any significant behavioural changes. The software immediately notes any cows showing a deviation from the pattern of behaviour of the previous 10 days."
The system prepares graphs for each cow in the herd showing the level of activity as well as milk production rate and milk conductivity.
"Increased activity is a sure sign that a cow is on heat. Cows normally take 50-60 steps an hour, but when they are bulling the level of activity increases to over 400 steps an hour," said Mr Harrison.
The Woodlake herd has an average yield of 7600 litres and is fed a complete diet of maize, wheat and lucerne 365 days a year. *
Data is collected from the pedometers, fitted to to cows legs, when they enter the parlour.
• Allow cow activity monitoring.
• Improved submission rates.
• Low vet bills.