Sensor recognizes milk fever weeks before calving
Practical study Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research, Vetvice and Nedap
Sense of sensors in transition management
On a dairy farm, there is certainly no shortage of data. Key performance indicators for milk production and livestock health have come to form an indispensable part of modern-day livestock farming and with the advent of sensors, the flow of data has expanded still further. In a large-scale practical study, Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research, Vetvice and Nedap are seeking to identify a method that will make it possible to derive practical value from the information provided by sensors. In a series of articles, we will look over their shoulders as they carry out their research. In this edition: milk fever.
Dairy farmer Bert Versteeg:
“A few days before calving, eating time is clearly under pressure”
The eating behavior of cows has been registered through Nedap Smarttags at Bert Versteeg‘s dairy farm. The dairy farmer from Bornerbroek in the Netherlands sees a clear connection between eating behavior and milk fever. “I don’t look at the data collected by the sensors every day, but when milk fever is identified I always look back at the data. A few days before calving you will notice that eating time is clearly under pressure.” Versteeg milks 120 Holstein cows that produce an average of 9,100 kg of milk with 4.65% fat and 3.75% protein. Until recently, milk fever was encountered all too frequently on the farm. “’We have returned to a low-calcium ration and we now feed them hammered hay instead of hacked hay. Hammered hay is shorter and finer and we hope to make the ration tastier in this manner, thereby increasing feed intake.” The sensors provide Versteeg with an indication as to whether this is working or not. “The system is not refined enough to get an alert when a cow runs the risk of picking up milk fever. We need to keep a closer eye around eating time, especially with older cows that are in a good condition.”
Read more articles about the large-scale practical study Sense of Sensors in Transition Management.