Hardwick Farm - Project Introduction

There is much interest within the dairy industry in finding ways to improve the early detection of disease. Health disorders can have a major impact on the profitability of a dairy herd. Diseases can impact production efficiency in 3 key ways: by reducing milk production, reducing reproductive performance, and by shortening the life expectancy of a dairy cow through increased culling rates. Early identification of sick cows is a critical component of any dairy herd health programme. During the transition period (typically defined as the period from 3 weeks before to 3 weeks after calving) dairy cows are highly susceptible to metabolic and infectious diseases; therefore, early identification of disease is essential at this time. The aim of this project is to see if dry cow feeding and general behaviour assessed using Genus feed face technology can predict prepartum disease and from this improve the number of cows in calf at 100 days post calving.

This project will investigate whether periparturient diseases can be predicted by monitoring dry cow behaviour with the aim of improving 100 day fertility rates.  The Genus Breeder Tag collects the feedface data by monitoring the cow’s eating behaviour. The technology can assess how long the cows lie down for, how many visits and how much time they spend feeding.  This real time data should report any changes in behaviour and allow a quicker response time to address any health related problems.

This technology is relatively new within the United Kingdom and Hardwick Farm will be the first installation in South Wales.