One of the more powerful benefits of an electronic cow health monitoring system is its ability to identify cows undergoing a potential health issue earlier than a trained employee (in most cases). This amazing ability is the outcome of the monitoring system’s ability to measure cow behaviors, plot a baseline or a “normal” pattern of behavior for that individual animal, and understand when changes in behavior are indicative of a health issue.
Studies confirm that a change from a cow’s normal behavior can accurately precede her identification via manually-detected clinical symptoms by several days.
Impact of a health issue on an individual cow and the implications of early detection.
What’s the value of finding and treating a sick cow earlier? Cows will be less severely impacted by health issues for a shorter period of time.
Treating her before the full impact of the disease hits means we are reversing the impact of the disease (the dashed green line in the graphic above) before it can reach its full untreated impact.
Since the peak impact will be lower than the impact of a later discovered issue (red line in graphic), she will not be as sick as she may have been if treatment would have been administered later.
How do we know if treatment was effective? An effective veterinary treatment will cause the treated cow’s rumination minutes to climb rapidly within 10-12 hours of treatment. As and experience and comfort level with the monitoring system increase, some herd managers modify treatment protocols from their pre-monitoring days to address various health issues more efficiently—gaining an even better response at a lower cost per incident.
Positive rumination response to treatment, as rumination shoots up following health events.
It’s easy to see that the ability to identify and treat sick cows early is a true herd health management game changer. The implications of the reduced impact of health issues also have a positive effect on herd reproductive performance and overall milk production. Additionally, with the reduced stress levels from reduced cow handling (only cows on the health report are inspected), one just may have truly transformational effects on the economic performance of the herd with the help of a monitoring system.
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