May 15 2023 08:00 AM

Sponsored content created by Don Gilberg, business development manager for herd management equipment at GEA Farm Technologies

Choosing an animal monitoring system can be tricky with so many options. Knowing what to look for can help you find a solution that makes daily herd management easier – and boosts your efficiency and profitability.

Most systems provide similar information, including health and activity insights. However, the integration capabilities and farmer support differ.

Use the following considerations to help weigh your options and determine the best monitoring system for your farm:

1. Know the integration capabilities

You can significantly streamline your daily herd management by combining monitoring system data with your existing management tools and technology.

Most monitoring systems interface with herd management software such as DairyComp and PCDART, but capabilities vary. Some monitoring systems have advanced integration capabilities, like automating protocols based on individual cow behavior.

These interface capabilities increase ROI by helping ensure the right cows get attention. And they reduce dependence on skilled labor by automating processes.

Some monitoring systems are standalone solutions, providing only health, activity and group monitoring insights. Others are all-in-one solutions that integrate with animal identification components – such as a parlor, sort gate, cow location, or milking robot.

2. Look for a reliable, durable system

Like any investment, you want a solution built to last. Most monitoring systems claim a battery life of 5 to 8 years. If you’re using a monitoring system with ID, find out if it requires battery life to ID or uses passive ID. If the ID runs off the battery, that affects longevity.

Retention can be an issue if you’re considering ear tags (over a neck collar system). Understand whether the monitoring device must fasten to another tag or if it is an independent tag. If you’re considering going the ear tag route, plan to spend more time on tag maintenance.

3. Learn about accessibility

Is the internet a challenge on your farm? Find out if it’s required to access the monitoring system. Some systems don’t require internet access unless you want alerts emailed to you or want to transfer baseline behavior information from site to site. Other systems are solely cloud-based, which can significantly impact your user experience if you have a poor internet connection.

Learn how the rest of your farm’s team can access your monitoring system information – such as your breeding technician, veterinarian, and consultants. Sharing access can be as easy as a remote login through the internet or an app, while others require more steps.

4. Find out how customer support works

If you have trouble with your system, you need someone you can call to provide immediate support.

Not every monitoring system company has a local technical support team or a 24/7 hotline you can call – and even if they do, many of these customer resources are based overseas. Find out if your system has a technical support team based locally.

Use these four tips to set your farm up for success with an all-in-one herd monitoring solution like GEA CowScout™. Work with your milking equipment dealer to find the right monitoring system for your herd.

GEA offers today’s progressive dairy producers leading-edge milking and manure equipment technology, along with a full line of aftermarket products and services – all under one umbrella. With GEA, you truly have a team who offers comprehensive solutions for your operation at the highest possible operating efficiency.