Who?

Antónia Polner

Herd manager

Where?

Mezőhegyes, Hungary

About the farm

  • 1100 dairy cows, 630 yearlings, 400 calves
  • 90 staff members, led by 2 herd managers
  • Annual production yield of 9600kg milk (20.5kg protein)
  • Cows average 2.35 lactations per lifetime
  • Calving interval varies between 435-439 days

Nedap solutions

Health Monitoring
Heat Detection

Results

Timely recognition
of heat and health problems
4-5 inseminations per pregnancy
Down from 7 inseminations
420 cows inseminated in July
Up from 260 in July last year

Technology by Nedap

Mezöhegyesi Stud Farm making progress with AI24

The biggest possible milk yield per cow. That is the Mezöhegyesi Stud Farm’s objective. However, to achieve that objective, herd fertility must be improved first. To this aim, the AI24 heat detection system was introduced in May 2014. Initial results are promising, says herd manager Antónia Polner.

Antónia Polner took up the role of herd manager at the large Mezöhegyesi Holstein Stud Farm in 2010. She had already been employed as a veterinarian with the same company. Mezöhegyesi Stud Farm is a former state-owned business, located in the south Hungarian village of the same name. Here, close to the border with Serbia and Romania, along with two colleague herd managers and a breeding manager, Polner manages a herd of 1,100 dairy cows, 630 yearlings and 400 calves. Eighty percent of all animals are inseminated with Semex sperm. That is not surprising: the Semex KI station in Mezöhegyes is a mere stone’s throw away.

Improving fertility

On the face of it, the cows produce well. High-yield cows are milked three times a day and low-yield cows twice a day. With an average of 2.7 milking sessions a day, each cow produces at least 9,600 kg milk (20.5 kg protein) per annum.

„Nevertheless, there are a number of areas for improvement, particularly in terms of fertility”, according to Antónia Polner. The calving interval is approximately 437 days.

Polner explains that a heat detection system has been employed by the business in the past. It was installed thirteen years ago, but due to a lack of maintenance and servicing, it started working less effectively year by year. „In 2011, it stopped working completely. So, for the last three years, we had to rely on visual identification of cows in heat.” To put it mildly, that is a challenge with such a large herd of cows.

Semex AI24

For that reason, veterinarian/herd manager Polner made repeated requests to management over recent years for acquisition of a new heat detection system. Eventually, management agreed. Semex AI24 was the obvious choice, given the close relationship with Semex. This system, based on the advanced technology from Dutch company Nedap Livestock Management, was installed in May 2014.

At present, half of all milk-producing animals has been fitted with the accompanying leg tags. First-calf heifers are placed in a different group 60 days after calving. At 45 to 50 days after calving, they are fitted with leg tags. Mature cows go to a different group after 30 days and are fitted with leg tags just 27 to 30 days after calving. As soon as a scan confirms animals are in calf, the label is removed and used for others that still need to be inseminated. On average, cows are inseminated again 60 days after calving.

Promising results

Although Antónia Polner only had a few months’ experience of AI24 at the time of this interview (in September 2014) the results already appear promising. „We are already reaping the rewards. For example, we inseminated 420 cows in June this year. Last year, we inseminated only 260 in the same month.”

In addition, the animals also become pregnant more easily. In the summer months in particular, it was always very difficult to impregnate cows successfully, explains Polner. „We required on average 7 inseminations per pregnancy. In June this year, that had reduced to 4 to 5 inseminations per pregnancy, a huge improvement.”

Twice-daily insemination

As before, the Semex inseminator visits daily and works from 06.00 to 11.00 hours. However, with the introduction of AI24, insemination takes place twice daily. If the system identifies additional cows in heat after 11.00 hours, the inseminator receives a phone call and he comes back during the early afternoon to carry out a second round of inseminations. Doctor Polner hopes this will help to improve pregnancy results.

Sexed semen

Another issue encountered by Polner is that in recent years, approximately 55 percent of newborn calves are bull calves and only 45 percent are heifers. Therefore, she is considering switching to sexed semen – for the yearlings in any case.

Zoltán Veres, general manager for Semex Hungary, asserts that it may be a good idea to use AI24 for the yearlings. „Firstly of course, to improve heat detection. There are only two people in the yearling stall and they are kept very busy just feeding the animals. That is where heat detection comes into play. Especially if you want to use sexed semen, it is important that animals be inseminated at precisely the right moment. Semex AI24 is the perfect aid in such scenarios.”

Highlighting reduced activity

The Mezöhegyesi Stud Farm also makes use of the ‘reduced activity’ function on the leg tag. When cows are less active, that is generally the first indication that something is wrong. The duty veterinarian checks the system every day to see which cows need to be monitored because of reduced activity. „That enables us to act quickly in the case of any health issues”, says Polner.

Operational efficiency

Besides, the herd manager notes that Semex AI24 improves operational efficiency. „As soon as the red light starts flashing on the screen, a flashing light is activated in the stalls. Staff members know immediately that there is a cow in heat that needs to be separated. Separation usually takes place during milking. However, if all cows are already back in the stalls, cows that are newly flagged as needing attention are taken from the stall and separated for insemination. “

Doctor Polner is very excited about AI24. „If only we’d had this system sooner”, she laughs. „I think it can really make an excellent contribution to breeding results as a whole for the business. In the future, I anticipate fewer inseminations, shorter calving intervals, more pregnancies, increased milk production, and more yearlings in calf.”