The dairy business is a business where problems don’t disappear, they only get bigger. Most, if not all, of health and reproduction issues are a symptom of an issue that occurred weeks or even months before.
Therefore, identifying potential problems when they are still small is very impactful on the bottom line. Early identification of problems is especially critical in large dairies, because large scale intervention has a negative impact on both the animals and employees. With animals’ daily routine disrupted for hours and an overwhelming workload for employees. There are no winners in this game.
The ‘Group Consistency’ graph is an effective tool to identify potential problems in a group of cows at the point they are still small.
Here is how to understand the ‘Group Consistency’ graph:
Pen 3 ‘Group Consistency’ graph.
The top graph line represents the average daily rumination for the pen.
The bottom graph line represents the variance in daily rumination time between the cows in the pen.
In the top right corner, you can find a measure of the ‘10 Days Group Consistency’ (highlighted by the red box) which measures consistency of the daily rumination average in the past 10 days, this cell will be highlighted either in green (indicating a small degree of variation in pen daily rumination), yellow (indicating a medium degree of variation in pen daily rumination), or red (indicating a high degree of variation in pen daily rumination).
Daily rumination average and 10-day daily rumination variance provide an overview of what is happening on the feed table. High variance could be caused by:
- A difference between planned ration and actual ration.
- Differences in the physical properties of the feed served.
- Issues with feed delivery and/or feed pushing.
- In grazing herds, PMR issues.
The daily rumination variance graph line provides insight on the “happiness” of the cows in the pen. High variance in daily rumination between the cows in the pen may be caused by high stocking density and /or poor housing conditions.
The lower the variation in rumination inside the pen, the “happier” the cows are.
Pen 7 ‘Group Consistency’ graph.
Pen 5 ‘Group Consistency’ graph.
All three graphs in this post are from the same farm. As you can see, each group of cows is experiencing their stay in a slightly different manner. Each group of cows may be affected by different issues than the adjacent pen.
Identifying the specific issues will require some additional work. Some of the work could be done using other monitoring graphs, some work needs to be done by physically inspecting the pens, the feed and the feed preparation routine etc. What is clear, it that pen 5 is the most urgent to inspect.
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