‘Ears’ to an essential tool
Dairy farming can be a tough job — keeping an eye on the herd, trying to maintain solid numbers year after year, keeping up with ever-changing regulations — so Eugene Rea started looking around for ways to work smarter.
“We’ve been on the farm for 25 years, and we started working with CowManager in September 2020. It’s definitely something I cannot imagine farming without now,” Eugene said.
Eugene milks 310 cows, all registered Holsteins, at Childers Cove in Victoria’s south-west.
“We milk off 380 acres [154ha] and calve in March and then again in August,” he said.
As many experienced farmers do, Eugene one day wondered if there was an easier way to run his business and get the best possible results, and so he started looking into cow monitoring systems.
“We chose CowManager after consultation with our vet and some other local farmers that had used the system — and we just loved their feedback on it.”
Measuring ear temperature
What sets the CowManager system apart from other cow monitoring options, is the non-invasive ear sensor that simply goes over a similar looking RFID tag.
CowManager measures a cow’s heat state for fertility, rumination, behaviour, eating and ear temperature, combining down-to-earth farming know-how — back in the day farmers felt their cows’ ears to check on them.
With modern innovation that practice is now faster and more accurate using CowManager.
This results in clear-cut data about a herd’s fertility, health and nutritional status, making it easier to catch disease early, increase mating results and tracking transition.
Using big data for sexed semen
“I think the ease of attaching and removing a tag was a good option for us and made the process with the CowManager app so simple,” Eugene said.
Since using the CowManager ear sensors to monitor his herd’s fertility, he has noticed some changes in his business and mating results.
"The biggest change for us has been a lot more heifer calves through use of sexed semen, and just having all that data,“ he said.
“Our conception rates have improved slightly but using a lot more sexed semen is what I’m really happy with.
“To not lose any fertility as a result, and we get a lot more heifer calves. I think we’re certainly picking up a bit more percentage in submission rate.
“To to immediately have that data to see who looks like being in-calf and who’s returned once mating is finished ... you can make decisions a lot earlier rather than having to wait for the herd to be preg-tested.”
Taking the edge off
Using the system has not only been beneficial to the business, but it’s also given Eugene peace of mind.
He now feels like he doesn’t need to be present at all times to get good results and have everything running smoothly.
The system does that for him, allowing him to make fact-based business decisions, even while he’s away.
“Having the app on the phone in real-time, you can see who's coming on heat,” he said.
“I'm fairly specific to who I mate what cow to, and now I can make those decisions. And if I'm not around, we've still got that information and you can be confident the farm's not missing out by me not being there."
Eugene said he definitely recommended CowManager.
“The payback time isn’t very long considering the value of heifers at the moment and just the ease of use and just taking that guesswork out of mating — it’s definitely something I cannot imagine farming without now.”