The importance of heat recognition and how Lely can help with this

Cows older than 8 months will be in heat every 3 weeks. They may display clearly discernable signs of being in heat, such as being restless and more active(standing and mounting).These signs help farmers to detect that an animal is in heat. But what if cows do not display such signs clearly? For example, if they are on slippery floors where they walk very carefully, or if they display the symptoms when the farmer is not around?

Management, T4C & InHerd

Proper detection of heat has a major influence on the number of insemination and calving intervals, which in turn, are closely related to a farmer’s earnings. A study* performed by Wageningen University shows the following results in relation to calving intervals and related costs. They compared a good calving interval (362 days), an average calving interval (407 days) and a long calving interval (507 days). The average calving interval lost $38 per cow/year net margin and the long calving interval lost $258 per cow/year net margin. Figure 1 shows the calving interval deviation on Lely Astronaut farms that are included in the Lely Benchmark.

Figure 1: Lely Benchmark

Lely provides a cheap, easy and effective method for heat detection by registering cow activity with a tag. These tags are fitted to the collar around the neck or on a leg. The information is processed in the T4C management program and can be shown in real time. T4C InHerd shows this information on the farmer’s mobile device.

Report 19 in T4C ‘Heat Probability’ shows additional information, such as the number of days after calving, days since last insemination/heat which are combined with activity levels to show cowsi n heat, see figure 2. 

Figure 2 – Report 19, Heat Probability

The report shows necessary information on the farmer’s desktop and notifies farmers of the optimal insemination moment. The dot, indicating the cow, moves along according to real time. The green zone is the “Optimal insemination interval”, in relation to the time since first heat attention. The green zone goes from 3 hour after the time of first heat attention until 19 hours (16hours).The yellow zone is the first 6 hours after the optimal insemination interval. The chance of conception is highest in the green zone. This doesn’t mean that a cow cannot become pregnant if she is inseminated when the dot is in the yellow zone. It is just that the chances are higher in the green zone.

It is also possible to add an extra column to this table for “Health remarks”. It is commonly known that a decrease in weight or a recent bout of mastitis can have a negative influence on conception at insemination. In the report, clicking on the cow number will reveal a graph with more such detailed activity information.

Evaluating decisions can lead to improved farm results. The “Reproduction module” is an easy tool for evaluating and improving reproductive performance in a cost-effective way. It provides management information on current status and evolution of reproductive performance, automatic pregnancy registration, insemination advice and automatic heat detection.

Using the activity tags and the hands-on information provided by T4C enables farmers to stay on top of their reproduction performance, an area where there is much room for improvement with regard to labor, costs and sustainability.

You can also consult the Farm Management Brochure – Breeding Youngstock – to learn more about calf rearing and management.

Lely Farm Management Support