With low milk prices, dairy producers are critically evaluating every single purchase and every management change they intend to make.
Evaluating the effects of changes on a dairy farm is challenging because in a conventionally managed farm there is little measurable and immediately available data to gauge cow’s response to such changes.
Milk response is a common measure for a change. However, a milk response will typically take some time to show and, during that lag time, may be “polluted” by other completely unrelated events that the herd was exposed to before or after the change was implemented.
With electronic animal monitoring, one can evaluate the general effect of any change within hours. It also allows the trial to be conducted on a single pen rather than the entire herd, limiting the risk of a potentially negative response.
The graph shown above illustrates the effect of adding a feed supplement to a pen’s ration:
- The supplement was added to the ration on August 29th. Pen rumination was at 580 minutes per day.
- A pen-wide drop in rumination to 560 minutes per day occurred the next day. The herd manager wanted to get a better feel for the supplement’s effect and kept it in.
- One week following supplementation rumination began dropping daily.
- Nine days after supplementation the trial was ended by the herd manager, rumination minutes began climbing.
The herd manager opted not to purchase or use this feed supplement again in the future.