In a conventionally managed herd, a healthy cow that conceives at first service is handled 10 times when she is subjected to a fresh cow protocol, five times as she goes through a presynch-ovesynch program, one time when she’s bred and two times during pregnancy checks. A total of eighteen times!
In an advanced electronically monitored herd, a healthy cow that conceives at first service the number of touches could be reduced to three times within a lactation: once at breeding, once at pregnancy check and once for general maintenance (hoof trimming, vaccinations, etc.).
The difference in the number of “touches” between a conventionally managed herd and an animal monitoring managed herd, by herd size and first service conception rates is summarized in the following table:
|Number of Milking Cows||First Service Conception Rate|
Difference in number of “touches” between conventionally managed herd to advanced electronically-monitored herd.
Since each extra touch involves finding the cow that actually needs to be touched while also “touching” of other cows that do not need to be “touched” on that day, the impact on profitability, from both a labor efficiency perspective and from a cow comfort perspective, is higher than might be initially imagined.
Word of caution:
A high level of trust in the animal monitoring system is required to embark down this road.
One must have a high level of confidence that the monitoring system can identify sick cows with a high degree of accuracy. Any cow that does not appear on the health report will not be “touched”.
Most healthy cows will cycle naturally before 60 DIM giving further indication of their health.
Having the confidence in the monitoring system’s ability to detect heats and to point out the ideal time for insemination means that TAI programs are not needed.
Once a cow is bred, she will be checked for pregnancy about 45 days following the breeding if she does not show a heat and after the risk of abortion and/or absorption are reduced.
If she does show a heat anytime after pregnancy check and before dry off she may have aborted, but she does not need to be touched to verify her status.