As trust is built in an electronic animal monitoring system’s ability to find cows in heat and the corresponding increase in the number of pregnancies builds up, the typical user’s focus shifts from only efficiently managing herd reproduction to efficiently managing herd reproduction AND improving cow welfare by reducing the number of “touches” per cow. One “touch” can be put away for good by examining the standard operating procedure of preg checking cows and adapting it to reflect the information provided by the cow (and captured by the system).
The conventional pregnancy check process is structured under the premise of unreliable heat detection and consists of two pregnancy diagnoses. The first (at around 30 days after insemination) is focused on finding open cows to enable rebreeding them as soon as possible. The second (at around 60 days) is focused on confirming the pregnancy after the risk period of early gestation loss decreases.
The two preg check processes should be maintained after the deployment of an animal monitoring system until confidence in the heat detection capabilities of the system is obtained. As more cows get bred off of system identified heats, the user will realize that the need for the 30-day pregnancy check will be considerably reduced.
With reliable heat detection, the open cow will be found in heat by the system 18-25 days later if she did not conceive from that first breeding. Clearly, she’ll bred again at that time. There’s no need to check her at day 30 to verify an already confirmed fact that she did not conceive the first time around.
Activity graph of a cow showing a heat and bred on January 7th. She cycled again on January 30th (23 days later). No need to wait.
As long as the “two preg check” system is kept in place, the farmer is set to gain additional confidence in the heat detection abilities of the system as the number of cows checked open at 30 days will decrease significantly and days open will begin inching down due to the 5-12 day jump in identifying open cows.
As comfort level increases, the next logical step is to eliminate the 30-day preg check and move the second preg check from to 45 days post-breeding to get an indication of early gestation abortions and absorptions. A few farms even choose to discard this pregnancy check and trust the cows to tell them their reproductive status.
Activity graph of a cow that showed a heat and was bred on November 3rd, confirmed pregnant on December 12th. No heats in between these dates.
The impact of reducing the number of “touches” on the stress of the herd is immense. In many cases, it “unlocks” a few pounds of milk. The reduction of one of the pregnancy checks has a significant impact on reducing treatment expenses in the short term. More so, as the realization that the vast majority of cows presented to be checked are pregnant, the entire nature of the check changes to a more comprehensive inspection of cow condition instead of just a “preg check.” A double win!