Cows eating at feed bunk
Taking the plunge and investing in precision technology like activity and rumination monitors is a big decision. The return on investment is dependent on how a producer uses this new wealth of information available at their fingertips.

In a way, activity and rumination monitors are like detectives; they dig deeper than the eye can see to solve on-farm mysteries. Monitors can identify cows that are in heat, or those that are cystic. They can pinpoint sick cows, even before clinical signs are exhibited.

Activity and rumination monitoring can also identify procedural drift. During a farmer panel at the Purina Leading Dairy Producers Conference held in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., a Michigan dairyman shared how precision technology helped their farm resolve an ongoing issue.

The 1,650-cow herd noticed a consistent difference in both milk production and rumination times between their two mature cow groups, which should have been performing relatively the same. This data spurred some further investigation. They discovered that, in an effort to speed up milking during the third shift, milkers were bringing both mature cow groups to the parlor at the same time.

That meant cows in the second group, the cows with lower milk production and less rumination, were spending 2.5 more hours on their feet in the holding area. That was 2.5 hours they were not eating or resting. Once that practice was stopped, milk production and rumination rose to match the other mature cow group.

Without that rumination data, this misstep in milking routine may not have been noticed for a long time, or at all, and the mystery would have remained unsolved. Instead, precision technology allowed the farm to identify a problem, make a positive change and reap the rewards of elevated milk production.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
February 1, 2016
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