Tools for Providing the Best Care for Dairy Cows

In today’s larger dairies, there are numerous cows to track and care for on a daily basis. From a freshly born calf to a cow being bred for the third time, each one has a different need to be addressed. Even for smaller farms, tracking every cow and the work associated with her can be a struggle.

Even if your farm has numerous employees that are in charge of each part of a cow’s day – from her feeding to milking parlor visit to cleaning her pen to a vet check, things can slip through the cracks. That is where having another set of eyes or a tracking system can come into play on the farm. However, there are many options available out there that promise to deliver the best for your cows. In this piece, we’ll walk through some basic options available that will help your dairy deliver the best care for your cows.

An Eye in the Barn

Unless your kid has tagged along for the day and wants to follow their favorite cow through the barn, you can’t follow one cow throughout the whole day. You are a multitasker, and you have to visit lots of cows each day. But that’s where something like a camera system will act as another employee for you.

Cameras are an invisible tool that a lot of farms have been using over the years. One of the primary benefits of them is security for your dairy. You can place them near your shop, entryways, driveways, and other high-traffic areas to monitor what’s going in and out of your farm. The second reason farms will install cameras is to ensure protocols are being followed by employees. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is an even better tool for seeing how exactly something happened.

But when it comes to seeing if cow number 5467 freshened or number 3246 was moved into a breeding pen, cameras are that second set of eyes to check on it. It will also be there to greet a newborn calf when mounted in the birthing pen. Cameras can also catch when a cow has been incorrectly sorted into a different pen.

A Watcher for Activity

With improvements in heat detection, pedometers, neck tags, and ear tags can detect when a cow is coming into a time for breeding. While some dairies continue to mark tailheads with chalk or paint, other farms use the technology they have in place around the barns. A big bonus is many of these systems connect right to your herd management software.

Cutting down on paperwork associated with a cow not only simplifies your herd manager’s life but many of your team members too. Especially on a dairy farm that has more than 100 cows, it’s easy to have things get lost in translation (hello poor penmanship) or misidentification of a cow, especially if you have cows that have the same number on their ear tag.

Similar to tracking a cow through a barn, a heat detection system eliminates extra work for you and your team. They will provide reports and insights into when a cow is ready to breed again or indicate when she might not be feeling great. Newer updates to these systems include monitoring for calves, which is beneficial for catching sickness early on to provide care on time.

A Place for Reporting

How many times have you set something down never to find it again? That’s not what you want to happen with cow data. That can lead to a wide range of problems including missed breeding or a sickness flaring up in your herd. Keeping herd information in one easily accessible location is important for you and your team.

It’s helpful to have access to herd information when you’re not on the farm. You might be at a conference and speaking to a veterinarian about something you’ve noticed in a cow. Pulling out your phone and showing the cow’s history can be the key to fixing an issue. Or perhaps you’re at a sale and want to show the breeding record of a particular cow.

Having information in one location also benefits your outside consultants like veterinarians and nutritionists. If they can access your herd management software ahead of their visits, then you can cut down on time spent reviewing files. Also, they will be able to make notes or provide updates remotely in the software without even having to come to your farm, saving time for both of you.

Caring for cows is a full-time job for a reason, and many factors go into the proper care for her. Avoiding miscommunication or missing data in a cow’s record will prevent a small problem from becoming a bigger one. At the end of the day, it will help give your cows the best care possible.

To learn more about cameras, heat detection, or herd management software, contact Dairy One by emailing [email protected] or calling or texting 607.257.1272.