"It has been great technology to work with"
Don Niles, owner
Casco, Wisconsin, USA
About the farm
- 3,000 dairy cows
- Double 42-milking parlor
- Milking three times a day
- Using Alta Cow WATCH, Powered by Nedap technology
Dairy Dreams embraces new technology with results
Together with his business partner, Don Niles started a dairy farm with the idea of constantly adopting new technology. For them, there is a great deal of job satisfaction in this. Every now and then a technological gem passes by. With Alta COW WATCH, powered by Nedap technology, the dairy farmers have completely regained their fun at Dairy Dreams. And it brought them a lot more.
The dairy farmers from the Northeast of Wisconsin have started Dairy Dreams with 1,200 cows. Today, that is 3,000 cows, which are milked three times a day in a double 42-milking parlor. With each expansion, they have implemented new technology in their business operations to further improve the way they work. Don explains how they came into contact with Nedap technology through Alta: “We were intrigued by activity systems such as Alta COW WATCH, because we felt it would find cows in need sooner, than we were able to find them otherwise.”
Faster detection of sick animals and cows in heat
Alta COW WATCH uses a SmartTag to register the cows’ eating, rumination and inactive behavior 24/7. Via a scientifically developed algorithm, the data is translated into health information about the cows with attentions in case of deviations. This innovative technology proves to be the ideal solution for the challenges at Dairy Dreams, as the employees and general manager Steve Lambrecht experience. “Before we used Alta COW WATCH, we were just using milk deviations to find sick cows”, he says.
“Thanks to the health attentions, we can now spot cows with deviant behavior much faster and put them on a checklist. This way we can hopefully do something sooner to save those cows.”
The SmartTag also provides very reliable information about the cows’ heat behavior and the best time for insemination. “Some of the benefits of Alta Cow WATCH are we don’t have to paint in the pens anymore”, says the manager. “We just go through the list in the morning, and separate the cows that are in heat according to the system. In this way the cows in heat come to us instead of us going to look for the cows. So it’s a lot less walking, and less paint.”
Palpated pregnancy rate improvement
In addition to faster detection and reduction of labor, the result also increases thanks to this technology. Steve agrees: “Thanks to Alta COW WATCH, the palpated pregnancy rate has increased from sixty to seventy percent. Before, we thought we were finding all the heat cows, but obviously we wouldn’t have found all those cows without COW WATCH.”
They recently started using Alta COW WATCH with the heifers at Dairy Dreams. “Week after week we’re finding hundred percent palpated pregnancy rate. Where every heifer that we’re pregnancy checking is pregnant, because COW WATCH has already found the open cows and gotten them re-bred”, owner Don says with satisfaction. “This is exactly what we were looking for: a better way to manage our cows and stay out of the cows’ way, leading to better results.”
Simple and objective
That new technology does not have to be complicated confirms herd manager Dennis Dubon. “It was very easy for me to learn how to use the system. It also saves me a lot of time, because I no longer have to search the barn for cows in heat. That makes my job much easier.”
For manager Ryan Schultz, the biggest advantage of Alta COW WATCH lies in the unbiased observation and the ability to zoom in deeper into a cow’s behavior. “Going through the dashboard is my favorite time of the day,” he says with a smile. The dashboard provides insight into behavioral deviations of the entire herd, but also, for example, into the feed intake pattern of specific groups. “Other systems I used gave me automatic reports, but it’s not interactive. I didn’t have the option to zoom in on the behavior of an individual cow. The fact that everyone has remote access to the system also offers many advantages compared to other systems.”
From data to results
But the technology also adds value to the dairy farm at another level. The objective data stimulates the conversation between managers and with the employees in order to work on improving results from there. “I would definitely recommend Alta COW WATCH at this point”, Ryan Schultz confirms. Owner Don Niles adds: “Embracing new technology makes dairy farming fun for me. You feel better in many ways. About the way you take care of your cows, about the results you are able to achieve and about the work you can do. So I’m having fun! It has been great technology to work with.”
Alta COW WATCH, powered by Nedap technology
Dairy Dreams is equipped with Alta COW WATCH powered by Nedap technology. To learn more about Alta COW WATCH and to contact your local dealer, go to the Alta website:Find your solution ›
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