Mating period made easy

Eugene Rea with WWS Australia’s local CowManager representative Paul Quinlan.

Going on a decent family holiday in the middle of the mating period might sound far-fetched, but for Eugene Rea, his wife Chantelle, and their blended family of seven children, it’s suddenly become reality.

“We’ve never been able to do that before but having a cow monitoring app on my phone allows me to be able to see what is going on 24/7, even if I’m away,” Eugene says.

Eugene’s been in the dairy business all his life. He grew up on his parents’ farm and has been a full-time dairy farmer since 1993. Through the years, his business has blossomed.

“My parents bought this 110-hectare farm in 1997, which I managed until 2010, at which time I purchased the farm off them. We lease 69 hectares next door and I also have an out-paddock of 50 hectares, seven kilometres away, which is used for fodder production and heifer rearing.”

More family, less labour

At Childers Cove in south-west Victoria, Eugene and his two staff members care for and milk 300 registered Holsteins.

“And this year we reared 150 heifer calves plus another 100 steers and beef calves”, Eugene adds.

All cows in the milking herd have a CowManager ear sensor, which monitors their rumination time, eating time, resting time and ear temperature. All cow data is sent to Eugene’s PC and smartphone in real-time, transferred into coloured graphs and self-explanatory reports.

Having tech as a tool in their toolbox, makes those days on-farm shorter and easier.

“I’ve been able to spend less time in the dairy as I haven’t had to worry about the heat detection or applying heat detection aids, leading to more family time. For my employees, CowManager makes heat detection one less thing to worry about.”

Eugene Rea with his cows.

Timing sexed semen

Before they had to spend hours applying tail pant or scratchy stickers, which also led to some guesswork with no real idea of exact timing of heat.

Eugene sat down with his vet to discuss options, and he had heard of a couple of other local farmers who had installed CowManager. The simplicity of applying and removing the ear tags — which fit over RFID/NLIS tags — drew him in, and he installed the system in September 2020. Ever since, the guessing game has turned into a data-based strategy.

“CowManager has taken any human error out of the process; from heat detection right through to cow identification and drafting. It has taken all the hassles out of breeding periods, enabling myself and staff to fully focus on milking and other important roles. The heifer export market is a massive part of our business, and the system has allowed us to increase numbers put towards this, whilst allowing us to keep more heifers from our best cows.”

Having around the clock cow data has also made Eugene more confident in using sexed semen in the milking herd, resulting in a third of all pregnancies being sexed semen.

“I like that the system can tell me who comes on heat in real-time throughout the day, giving me time to figure out the best sire to match to each individual cow. I can also see her cycling and fertility history to see if she is suited to be mated to sexed semen.”

Eugene has found it also picks up cows not cycling, including cystic ovaries and other fertility issues before or early in the mating period.

Best of both worlds

With his business blooming even more and with more family time on the horizon, Eugene is glad to be able to proactively run his farm and provide the best possible care for his cows, while also having time for a more fulfilled personal life – even during the mating period.

“I would definitely recommend CowManager to other dairy farmers. It’s so easy to use and makes the mating period very easy.”

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Eugene’s herd