The latest generations of sensors, like Nedap Smarttags, can monitor the time budgets 24/7 for individual cows, pens and your entire herd. And it is not just the milking herd, the dry cows are included as well. This gives you the opportunity to check the effects of your management style or changes. It is good to realise that you need to know as many of these traits for as many cow groups as possible. If, for instance, only rumination time is available for fresh cows you only get a small part of the picture. Adding eating time and dry cows means a huge improvement and really gives you options for improving the profitability of your herd.
Cows are ruminants and this means they need to spend enough time chewing (eating and ruminating). It is the total chewing time that is important. A reduced rumination time in itself does not necessary indicate a problem. It might simply be the result of a change in diet. The most obvious example is pasture access. This results in a dramatic change in eating and rumination time compared to silage, but the total chewing time remains constant. When the total chewing time is reduced, that’s when your cows run into trouble. This has been shown for ketosis. Ketotic cows have around 5% decrease in chewing time in the entire dry period. This only emphasises the need to know both eating and rumination time. And you need to know it for the dry cows. It might not be the first group you think of, but you really should. Good dry cow management is essential for a good start of the new lactation. Eating time and lying time in the dry period are related to production at the first test day. Top producing cows spend more time eating and more time lying in the entire dry period.