GLOBAL – Monitoring technologies on dairies can identify a wide range of cattle ailments but there are no magic numbers that can be rolled out across the industry.
There will probably never be a time when data on lying and standing time, rumination and feeding behaviour can be pin-pointed with algorithms, Dr Trevor DeVries, University of Guelph told the Large Herd Seminar this week.
The Canadian feeding management and cow behaviour expert said that, while there are excellent opportunities in the market, that he would be ‘hesitant to promote’ a particular product.
“We don’t have good validation of a lot of things,” said Dr De Vries. “You need to be very confident that exactly what you want measured is being measured accurately and can help your farm.”
He added that small variations in management and nutrition could impact rumination time and any attempt to predict or monitor sub-acute rumen acidosis.
“One company might produce an algorithm for detecting a certain change in rumination that alerts for acidosis, potentially this will work on a herd but a neighbours farm could have drastically different rumination time related to feeding programme according to timing and frequency of feed.”
Devices to predict disease are certainly useful but not everyone will be ‘rushing off to buy them', Warwick Bastard of Model Nutrition Dairy Consulting and Conference organiser told TheDairySite.
However, he added that any dairy, no matter what size, can benefit from the latest devices.
Whether computer collars, rumen boluses measuring pH levels or bite and chew measurements, they all make fast response to an ailment possible, he added.
“One cow is as difficult to manage as another,” said Mr Bastard. “If we look after the welfare of the cow, herd size is doesn’t matter.”
Conclusions from observing cow signals can save money and reduce lost milk, he added.
The key thing for Mr Bastard is employing technology that can predict and diagnose disease early.
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