Identifying abnormalities in cow behaviour before they become visible
It’s Friday afternoon and Peter Willemse is making his rounds of the barn, accompanied by data analysts Arnold Harbers and Eveline de Pont of Nedap. As usual, Peter first takes a look at the Nedap CowControl dashboard. There are already three cows on the urgent attention list, when a fourth cow is suddenly added. It has not shown any eating or ruminating activity for too long a period. This is unusual…
Eveline logs into the Nedap CowControl system of De Retraite Hoeve via her smartphone and zooms in on this cow’s status. “She’s on day 17 of her second lactation and hasn’t shown any eating or ruminating activity for the past six hours. Her pattern of behaviour looked normal yesterday, and her milk yield was appropriate this morning,” she notices at a glance. “The cow’s history shows that she had some problems before calving.”
Peter gives the cow an energy preparation against milk fever and pours a liquid painkiller over her back. In the evening, she is still refusing concentrate feed and Peter decides to put her on straw in the separation stall after milking. She may have hardware disease, so a magnet is inserted. A glucose drip and antibiotics should help the cow recover.
The treatment appears to be effective. The following day, the system shows that the cow is already eating normally again. “If I hadn’t received the urgent attention report, I wouldn’t have noticed the problem with this cow until later, and it would have been far harder to resolve the issue. The cow’s recovery would have taken much longer,” the dairy farmer firmly believes.
Keeping one step ahead of health problems
“I like the fact that Peter does something about the alerts right away,” comments Arnold. “Even if it’s simply getting the cow to the feed fence, so he can immediately see whether she’s going to eat again. This means he can stay one step ahead of health problems and keep his results on track.”
“Besides, it’s much nicer when everything’s going smoothly,” laughs Peter. “It saves on a lot of stress. The pleasure of work and the sight of a healthy herd in the barn mean a lot to me.”
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