Zooming in on heat for herringbones
09 May 2016
Farmers who milk in herringbones now have an easy to use and high tech solution to accurately identify which of their cows are on heat.
The innovative system has been developed in New Zealand by farmer owned co-operative LIC, and is now commercially available in this country and overseas. It uses exclusive camera technology to automatically identify heat events, saving farmers time and money.
The technology was developed to meet farmer demand for a herringbone heat detection solution, LIC Automation Chief Executive Paul Whiston said. Protrack EZ Heat for rotaries had been available for four years and a large number of farmers had asked for a herringbone solution.
A prototype for herringbones was first released at Fieldays last year and refined in field tests before commercial release now. The Protrack EZ Heat system for both herringbones and rotaries integrates with LIC Automation’s Protrack system to draft cows after heat detection. It also integrates with LIC’s MINDA herd management software to record the heat events – making life even easier for farmers.
For the coming 2016-17 season LIC is offering interest-free terms on a range of products, including Protrack EZ Heat and Protrack drafting solutions, in light of the current economic environment facing dairy farmers.
Whiston said the heat detection technology was designed to improve efficiency and herd management decisions. “Protrack EZ Heat reduces production losses through missed heats, while removing the stress and labour costs associated with manual heat detection.” Identifying cows on heat is critical during the farm’s mating season and the following year’s production depends on it. Achieving accuracy can be challenging for even the most experienced farmer.
“The system is very accurate at detecting activated and missing heat patches,” Whiston said.
The herringbone system includes a unique in-race photo booth that cows walk through as they leave the shed after milking. A camera in the booth photographs the cow’s heat patch above its tail, and evaluates the heat patch for signs of activation. By comparison, the rotary system photographs the heat patch while the cow is on the platform.
In both systems, cows deemed to have no activity are drafted back to the paddock. If a patch is deemed activated or missing, the cow is automatically drafted by Protrack to a pen ready for the farmer to inspect and put the cow up for artificial insemination. Heats detected by Protrack EZ Heat are automatically recorded in MINDA, removing the need for manual data entry.