Taking the stress out of AI

Gone are those long, tiring AI days, says Trevor Shanahan, who started using a cow monitoring system this year.A fourth-generation dairy farmer, Trevor, his wife Sarah and parents Pat and Trish, are all actively involved on the farm. They have two daughters and Trevor thinks one of them might be interested in dairying later on.In February, Trevor and Sarah signed up for the CowManager system, and chose the subscription service which, as Trevor says, is good for cashflow.The innovative sensor technology is allowing his dairy herd to cycle naturally."The ear tag is easy to get on and off and it's less intrusive than a collar. We chose CowManager mainly for the Fertility module, but we have the Nutrition and Health modules as well."The Shanahans milk 250 to 300 cows at Koroit in south-west Victoria and employ two part-time milkers.They milk in a 20-unit swing-over dairy and Trevor said they were very happy with the size of the operation with no immediate plans to get bigger or upgrade.Every year they breed about 70 heifers which they grow out on a turnout block nearby.The heifers, some of which are replacements and some for export, all have the CowManager sensor ear tag, which can be read in the dairy. They also run a few beef cattle putting an Angus bull over the herd.Increasingly, the Shanahans are using sexed semen to ensure they get more heifers and fewer bobby calves."CowManager gives us more accurate timing of heats and we can AI accordingly," Trevor said."It gives us greater certainty when using sexed semen and makes it more effective and economical."CowManager integrates easily with Easy Dairy and Easy Draft software. When cows are on heat, they are drafted out automatically for AI. There is no need to observe heats, no more scratchies or remembering to do tail paint touch-ups."Joining is less stressful. It sorts itself out," Trevor said."There are no big AI days like there were when we used hormones. We let them cycle naturally and we can manage our workload better."Knowing when cows are cycling more accurately has reduced costs associated with vet visits, drugs and hormones used for synchronising heats.While calving will not be as condensed as it was with a synch program, Trevor thinks it will be more manageable.The Health and Nutrition alerts on CowManager picks up cows that are struggling, often well before a problem might be noticed by the farm team.It monitors temperature and rumination and allows early intervention before conditions like mastitis and pneumonia become critical."It's good when we're out and about. If a cow hasn't moved overnight, we get an alert and can treat her first thing," Trevor said.Early intervention can also contribute to a reduction in veterinary and medical expenses."It's an easier way of doing things and it allows us to pay more attention to the care of individual cows. We have better control," Trevor said."We can keep an eye on them, and nothing slips through the cracks."Source: https://www.cowmanager.com