Activity monitoring systems for cows have become quite popular in recent times. Yes, not only can you measure how many steps you take by wearing a pedometer, you can measure how many steps your cows take by attaching a simple device to their foot or collar. In a 2008 survey by Hoard's Dairyman, 5.7 percent of all farms reported using electronic cow identification. Of that 5.7 percent, one-third reported using this electronic identification for activity monitoring with the goal to detect heats. Our cows at the Hoard's Dairyman farm wear activity monitors, and a portion of our breeding is done based off of its detection.
In a recent publication by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Christina Petersson-Wolfe, an extension dairy specialist, discussed the potential of using activity monitoring as a source for predicting disease. Typically, pedometer reports are watched closely for spikes of activity as a sign of estrus. However, Petersson-Wolfe reports that in recent studies at other universities, predicting disease may be a future job of activity monitoring devices. One study reported an increase in activity 10 days prior to a D.A. The Virginia Tech dairy center recently added a new activity monitoring system to their dairy. It is their hope to that results from an upcoming study will give them activity indicators of metabolic disease. That way, if we can detect ketosis before it happens, treatment can be administered and dollars can be saved. We're wondering - what are your experiences with activity monitoring?