Using Vigreen COWControl on a tactical and strategic level
Cows form the backbone of every dairy farm. To achieve maximum production, it is important cows stay healthy. Not only does a behavior overview of a certain group or herd help the dairy farmer or herd manager to manage the barn, milking procedures and feeding processes, but it also provides information to configure the barn and walking routes of the cows. The various activities performed by the herd during the day, the average amount of time spent by cows for each activity and the variation of behavior amongst a group of cows are important factors that are enabling optimization to increase overall production and efficiency on a dairy farm.
Stability and regularity are important contributions to the success of a dairy farm. Cows are creatures of habit and perform at their best if every day follows the same format. Any type of change in a cow’s daily routine causes stress. Stress has a negative effect on milk production, reproduction and health of dairy cows. The amount of regularity due to a farm’s management procedures can be determined by the behavior of a group of cows.
The data generated by the Smarttag Neck provides insight into the behavior of a group of cows. Monitoring of eating, rumination and inactive behavior makes it possible to chart the herd’s pattern. Feeding management measures are tactical measures. The dairy farmer or herd manager can monitor and evaluate the effects of feeding management measures by monitoring changes in eating, rumination and inactive behavior patterns at a group level.
The Group Monitoring section of Vigreen COWControl alerts the dairy farmer or herd manager if a certain percentage of the cows on a farm is showing abnormal behavior when compared to their previous behavior. This alert indicates that external factors may be affecting behavior, posing a risk to milk production, reproduction and health of the cows.
Group Eating Pattern
Vigreen COWcontrol presents a unique 48-hour overview per group with the percentage of cows eating simultaneously.
Researchers used the information displayed in figures 21 and 22 to compare various (farm) procedures, such as:
- Forced and free movement of cattle.
- Social unrest after regrouping or the introduction of new cows.
The routine of a group of dairy cows can be monitored by comparing information with reference values from research or by comparing group behavior on the farm. Charting and detecting changes or abnormalities provides dairy farmers or herd managers with a tool that enables him or her to respond and implement improvements if necessary according to the farm’s management protocols.
Examples of tactical decisions:
- The data shows that 100% of the cows are not eating for four hours each day. The decision is made to provide feed on a more frequent basis.
- The rumination time is too low throughout the entire herd. The solution is to improve the composition of the roughage.
Example of a strategic decision:
The data shows that the cows are not eating simultaneously. The reason for this may be overcrowding of the barn or too few eating positions at the feed bunk. The solution is to create additional eating positions.