GEA’s CowScout tags have proven a worthwhile investment for New Zealand Dairy Farmer Brad Payne, who’s used the system for almost five years. Benefits include efficient heat detection, cows in calf earlier, less empties (and less herd wastage), proactive herd management. And more days in milk.
Back in 2014, Brad was milking 500 cows with 2 full time staff. He was both AB Technician and business owner with an objective to grow his herd to 800 cows over three years. Having just upgraded to a GEA iFLOW 50 bail rotary platform with automatic cup removers and iPUD automatic teat sprayers, adding CowScout made good sense. "As AB technician, I had to be with the cows daily for nine weeks checking and reapplying tail paint". says Brad.
It was too time consuming. CowScout offered a simple, reliable and accurate solution, plus it fitted easily into his existing system.
CowScout tags monitor every cow in Brad’s herd for 24 hours a day, providing highly accurate data that includes heat detection, eating and rumination activity. All of it available to Brad on any web-based device. Any cows on heat are pre-drafted automatically at their optimal insemination time; Brad receives a notification and turns up to do the insemination. “It’s proven highly cost-effective” continues Brad. “Firstly, 1 person now handles milking morning and evening. Without CowScout we’d require a second person for heat detection. “We also gained insight into optimal insemination times. Very quickly we realised we’d been inseminating too early on before, never mind knowing there was an optimal time of day.”
In the first year, CowScout data indicated the optimal insemination time for 80% of the herd was in the afternoon. The following year, it was generally mornings and last year it was evenings. Another benefit is spending a lot less time on AB (they don’t use bulls) and still achieving good results. He used to sit around 8-9% empties with 11 weeks AB. Last season, he did 8 weeks AB and had 4.5% empties.
Eating and rumination data was an unexpected bonus of the CowScout system. “With CowScout, we can afford to tag every cow and we pick up mastitis and metabolic disorders before cows go down because we know how much they’re eating. When a cow isn’t eating as much as she should, for example she might go from eating 11 hours per day to just 3, we receive an alert.
“Again, these cows are drafted out automatically, enabling us to check them and treat them a day or two earlier than we might have done before. “You wouldn’t get this sort of information by simply looking at the cows.”
CowScout tags are highly durable too, adds Brad. In five years, he’s only replaced 6 out of the original 1,000 tags due to any sort of failures. “CowScout is a great product and value for money” concludes Brad. “You can’t argue with data; it’s been key to better efficiency and more days in milk.”
Brad met his goal of 800 cows in 2017, as planned. 1 staff member handles milking morning and evening, meaning the others can work on something else or have time off.