“Heat detection, health monitoring and cow positioning is now a way of life.”
Wilfred de Bruijn
Herwijnen, The Netherlands
About the farm
- Wilfred runs the farm together with his father Anton
- 114 cows, 100 young stock
- Robotic milking
A way of life
Nedap COWcontrol™ provides assurance and peace of mind
For dairy farmer Wilfred de Bruijn, the use of Nedap COWcontrol™ with Heat Detection, Health Monitoring and Cow Positioning has become a better way of life within a short space of time. “The whole system provides assurance and peace of mind, and therefore reduces stress – both for me and for the cows,” de Bruijn says. Together with his father, Anton, Wilfred runs “Hoeve Boveneind” in Herwijnen, a farm with 114 cows and 100 young stock.
Precise identification of the right time to inseminate
In addition, de Bruijn works full-time as a fertility specialist at CRV. Since February 2015, the de Bruijn family has been milking with an MIone duobox from GEA. With the milking robot, Nedap COWcontrol™ with Heat Detection, Health Monitoring and Cow Positioning were also introduced. Since the dairy farm in the Betuwe region is also used for research purposes for HAS in Den Bosch, the De Bruijn cows are fitted with both the Smarttag Neck and the Smarttag Leg.
“Heat Detection really is a very useful tool,” says Wilfred, who as a fertility specialist always inseminates the cows at home. “Nowadays our failure rate is lower, because the system precisely indicates the correct insemination time.” Wilfred now also sees that many of his cows show signs of heat at night. “I will be sleeping peacefully at that time; the system detects every cow in heat. That is reassuring.” You do still have to stay alert, in his view. “When the system generates an alert, I always check if the cow really is in heat,” de Bruijn says.
Thanks to heat detection, the calving interval has already been reduced by 5 days over the past year, from 410 to 405. The insemination factor has dropped from 1.95 to 1.88 inseminations per pregnancy. He also uses COWcontrol™ with Heat Detection for the youn stock, using the Smarttag Leg. From an age of 12 months, the yearlings are given the leg tag – provided they are sufficiently developed. “I like to see two good cycles in the yearlings first before I inseminate.”
"Smarttags see something is wrong before you can see it"
Apart from heat behavior, the Nedap Smarttags also identify cows that are less active or consuming less feed than normal. “The major benefit of Health Monitoring is that the system notices something is wrong with a cow 1 to 2 days before I do,” says Wilfred. He’s more and more comfortable relying on it. “You can be safe in the knowledge that the system will generate an alert if anything abnormal occurs. That allows you to let things run their course a bit more.”
In the farmer’s experience, health monitoring is a useful tool, especially after calving. “If an animal stops feeding, I can respond to that right away. As a result, milk production is maintained, and I don’t have to use antibiotics as often.” Furthermore, the whole system is highly practical and user-friendly, according to the man from the Betuwe. “Even my father, who has no interest in computers, has familiarized himself completely with it,” says de Bruijn. “He checks the system up to five times a day. I only check twice a day.”
The whole combination
"Nedap COWcontrol™ provides assurance and peace of mind, and reduces stress"
Even De Bruijn’s father has been convinced of the usefulness of Cow Positioning. “He thought it was nonsense at first,” de Bruijn says. “Until he called me one evening because he couldn’t find a cow that still had to go through the robot. I checked my phone and could tell exactly where she was.” With the 100 cows they have for milking, they save at least 10 minutes a day looking for cows with a heat or eating alert, estimates Wilfred. These cows are quickly traced by means of Cow Positioning in the barn and led to the robot. Via the milking robot they are led to the separation area.
“The whole combination of Nedap COWcontrol™ with Heat Detection, Health Monitoring and Positioning really has become a way of life for us,” de Bruijn says. “It provides assurance and peace of mind, and reduces stress. Not just for me, but for the cows as well. Because we can quickly find them in the barn, we don’t have to keep passing through.” The dairy farmer says he would definitely recommend the system to colleagues. “Just remember, it will always be a tool,” de Bruijn says. “The success of such a system hinges on the management of the farm.”Nedap COWcontrol™