Effect of heat detection on a number of pregnant cows
How can we improve heat detection?
- It’s essential that all members of staff know how to identify a bulling cow. This should include tractor drivers or others who work around cows.
- Cows should be clearly identified with a freeze brand or a large management tag which is easy to read.
- Staff should have a notebook and pen; it’s easy to get confused between 123 and 132!
- Cows don’t all come bulling every 5 minutes. You really need a period of 20 minutes to get a good indication of what’s happening, three to four times a day. Late at night is a key time.
- Ensure good communication between staff to focus on animals likely to be bulling.
- Know which cows are likely to come bulling. Use the diary, Bray chart or computer. If a cow is bulling today, then put her details in the diary 18 days later so that you increase awareness that she will be returning to heat.
- Remember that cows will not show signs when there are other activities going on, such as milking and feeding.
The importance of heat detection aids
Anything which can increase the number of cows seen bulling will improve fertility. Even herds with good visual observation will see additional benefits.
Farmers and vets want heat detection aids that are both easy to apply and effective. Individuals have their own personal preferences. Scratch card technology, such as AI Ready, relies on the cow that mounts the bulling animal to rub off the silver coat of the AI Ready to reveal a Day-Glo colour that can be seen from afar. These are really popular.
AI Ready are self-adhesive and come in four different colours, which is very useful. One colour might be used for cows which have never been seen bulling, another for picking up three week return services and another for cows which are not pregnant at the vet check or problem cows.
AI Alert are also self adhesive and so really easy to apply. You just peel off the back of the device and stick to the cow, there is no messy glue. After cows have been mounted, paint is released and the AI Alert changes colour.
Everybody has their own personal preference. Both AI Ready and AI Alert are really easy to apply and that’s very important on a busy dairy farm where time is always an issue. They are ideal for application during vet fertility checks.
Some people use tail paint, however, this has to be applied regularly to ensure that it works well. This can be a very time consuming type of heat detection aid. Pedometers use proven technology and are very useful in detecting heats but have a high capital cost. There are other systems that involve high capital expenditure that can also be useful.
AI Alert and AI Ready have the advantage of being easy to apply, provide excellent value for money and most importantly, are effective without any large capital outlay. Every farm will benefit from using effective heat detection aids.