"Nedap CowControl is a crucial part of the jigsaw that has helped us drastically reduce our antibiotic use"
Steven & Ivan Nagle
County Cork, Ireland
About the farm
- 230 Holstein cows
- Steven & Ivan Nagle
- Split winter and spring calving
- Sexed semen
Reducing antibiotics with Nedap CowControl
‘We haven’t used any antibiotics on mastitis for the last 2 years’, says Steven Nagle, who milks 230 cows with his brother Ivan. They own the Landmark Herd of pedigree Holsteins just outside Mitchelstown in Co. Cork. They installed Nedap CowControl in two years ago. Once Ivan and Steven had the system up and running, the first thing they noticed was the benefit of Nedap CowControl’s health monitoring.
Far more accurate
‘It’s phenomenal,’ asserts Steven. ‘We installed Nedap CowControl mainly for heat detection, and you use that in the breeding season, but we use the health monitoring every single day of the year.’ The Nagles are split winter and spring calving and calve 60% of the herd in the autumn. Before they installed CowControl, like many farms, they didn’t carry out any routine health monitoring.
‘Now, you’ve an extra set of eyes on the herd at all times. We intervene far earlier nowadays, because of the health alerts from CowControl. I don’t care how hot you are on picking up health issues visually, this is far more accurate,’ continues Ivan. ‘Often, you’d draft a cow, and visually, there’s nothing wrong with her. The next morning, you see the problem. CowControl is always one step ahead. Now, we administer fluids to the cows that CowControl alerts us to, even if we can’t see anything wrong. It’s great at picking up things like ketosis and pneumonia as well.’
‘Nedap CowControl is a crucial part of the jigsaw that has helped us drastically reduce our antibiotic use,’ explains Steven. ‘The other two parts are AHV Animal Health, and Semex Immunity+ genetics. AHV’s products work. I can’t remember when we last used antibiotics on a mastitis case. It’s really helped our somatic cell count too. We genomic test all our heifers using Semex’s Elevate program, which has allowed us to identify the animals with better disease resistance.’
Close attention to cows’ behaviour
As a result of installing Nedap CowControl, Steven and Ivan have made number of management changes. With the rumination info now available to them, the Nagles are paying close attention to their cows’ behaviour. ‘If rumination drops across the whole herd, we make a change to bring rumination levels back up, whether that’s adding extra haylage into the diet or going in with a rumen buffer if needed,’ says Steven. ‘We usually buffer feed all year round, but last summer we ran out of haylage for two weeks. Straight away we saw that eating time increased, and rumination dropped. We were glad to be able to get haylage back in the diet for a bit of consistency!’
Steven finds that the biggest challenge to manage is at turnout in spring or going into after-grass. He has found that being able to track rumination with CowControl gives them another tool to help make sure that the cows are getting the diet that they need.
The Nagles have also changed how they manage transition cows. ‘It flags any little health issue that a cow might have in the transition period, and we’re straight in there to rectify that. If we see a few cows start to alert, we know we need to adjust their diet,’ reports Ivan. ‘We always tried to be proactive as regards cow health and welfare, but CowControl has allowed us to stop firefighting and focus on prevention. It’s allowed us to up our game.’
‘When we researched heat detection systems, we felt that Nedap CowControl provided the best collar-based system on the market. It’s battery life and the durability of the collar were major factors in deciding to install CowControl,’ Steven says. When asked about the system’s most impressive feature, Steven takes a minute to decide. ‘Good question!’ he laughs. ‘It’s the whole system. The app is great, it’s very user friendly. You’ve a full history of each cow right here on your phone. It shows up any animal needing attention so quickly, you’re ahead of any problems that might be brewing. You know the cows that always make you think ‘She’s not right, but I can’t see anything obvious wrong with her’, CowControl will tell you what’s wrong. There are no grey areas.’
Prior to installing Nedap CowControl, Steven and Ivan were using scratch cards and visual heat detection. They found these labour intensive and inaccurate. ‘Before CowControl, we were definitely missing cows on the scratch cards. Now, I don’t do heat detection anymore. I trust it completely,’ reports Steven.
Nedap CowControl highlights any other reproductive issues that a cow may be experiencing. ‘Look at this cow here, she’s clearly cystic because she’s on heat every ten days or so. You’ll pick up your cows that have stopped cycling really quickly and can intervene accordingly,’ explains Steven.
‘Another huge benefit of CowControl is that it has allowed us to switch to sexed semen. We use all sexed semen and beef bulls now. We couldn’t do that without CowControl, because it’s so important to get the timing right with sexed semen. We have all the info we need. If a cow is between 14-22 hours after onset of heat, we use sexed semen. We’re getting pretty much the same conception rates with sexed semen as conventional by using the data from CowControl.’
Steven and Ivan are renowned breeders of Holstein cattle, and they were awarded 2nd Place Overall in their section in the Cork Holstein Friesian Club’s Herds Competition last summer. ‘Sexed semen is going to be a game changer for us going forward. We’ve a huge interest in the genetics of our herd, and now, our best cows are going to have a much higher chance of having a heifer calf each year. CowControl plays a big part in that.’
Nedap CowControl is an extremely reliable system that has established itself as a market leader over recent years. Backed up by globally used technology with over 40 years of development, it’s a world-wide leader in heat detection and health monitoring.
The Nagle’s can’t imagine life without Nedap CowControl now. Steven checks CowControl first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and first thing each milking. ‘To me, this is an essential tool on any dairy farm. I’d recommend it to anyone. You can’t put a figure on the pay back of Nedap CowControl because it’s priceless,’ explains Steven. ‘It’s not just the financial benefit, but it’s the peace of mind it brings, and the labour it saves. It’s worth another labour unit on farm. We don’t know how we survived without it.’
About Nedap CowControl™
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