New technology accurately records cows’ water intake

The new TruDrinking function adds another layer of accuracy to smaXtec’s state-of-the-art fertility and health monitoring system.

smaXtec has launched what it claims is the world’s first system that accurately records the drinking frequency and daily water intake of individual cows.

The new TruDrinking function adds another layer of accuracy to the company’s state-of-the-art fertility and health monitoring system.

smaXtec is distributed in Australia by Lallemand Animal Nutrition, a leading supplier of microbial and associated technology used in the livestock and forage production sectors.

Lallemand’s Australian animal nutrition managing director Alex Turney said water intake was not only essential for milk production but was an early indicator for health.

“Water is often the forgotten nutrient in dairy herds,” he said.

“Cows need to consume three or four litres of water to produce one litre of milk.

“Any reduction of intake can significantly decrease feed intake and milk production.”

Drinking behaviour is an important indicator of health.

“If a cow is drinking less water, it can be assumed she is ill and will produce less milk,” Alex said.

“Monitoring the water intake of individual cows makes it possible to detect and treat disease even faster.

“In many cases, managers can detect emerging diseases up to four days before visible symptoms appear.

“This information can be extremely useful at calving when the cow is facing a range of physical and metabolic challenges.

“Any disruption to water intake can also be an indicator of a problem with water quality or accessibility.”

The smaXtec herd monitoring system utilises state-of-the-art rumen boluses to monitor minute changes in body temperature around the clock.

Collected data is transferred to the cloud via readers positioned around the property and easily accessed using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Complex algorithms are then used to predict cow activity, water intake, drinking frequency, rumination status, oestrus and animal health issues such as mastitis.

The dashboard provides a clear and precise overview of the real-time health, reproductive and feeding status of the herd and individual cows.

Automatic alerts and recommended actions can be sent via any nominated messenger service.

TruDrinking is available as a new function on all existing smaXtec systems.

smaXtec has been commercially available in Australia for five years.

Initially used by research facilities, the technology has gradually made its way into more than 50 commercial herds in Australia and New Zealand.

“As a guide, a complete system might cost less than $40,000 in hardware and $15,000 a year in subscription fees for a 500-cow dairy but it can very quickly pay for itself,” Alex said.

Higher levels of milk harvested, lower vet bills, low medication costs and faster reproductive cycles all contribute to more profit.

“Labour is one of the greatest limitations on every dairy farm,” he said.

“smaXtec provides 24/7 monitoring, allowing you to detect the slightest changes in behaviour more accurately and regardless of the weather.

“It allows managers to intervene before sub-clinical cases of milk fever, ketosis or mastitis become expensive clinical cases.

“A single case of mastitis can easily cost $500 to $800 in veterinary bills.

“The other big thing is that it keeps cows in the milking herd — once a cow is sick, it never recovers its peak production potential.

“Improved heat detection is the low hanging fruit — every cow in calf one cycle earlier represents a saving of minimum $150.

“The addition of TruDrinking to the smaXtec system provides even deeper and unparalleled insights into animal health, fertility and productivity.”