Principles of good oestrus detection
Oestrus in cows is observed the most successfully when a specific approach is followed that is customized to the farm.
In general five principles apply:
- Make a note of the observations - Documentation
- Know the oestrus signals - Oestrus signals
- Take the necessary time – Time required
- Recognize the influences on an obvious oestrus - Factors
- Question the success - Success control
- Allow support - Tools
Here are a few tips on how documentation of the observations can be implemented in practice:
The traditional oestrus calendar
Farmer Heiri has a traditional oestrus calendar hanging next to his shed door. He has attached the pen to it so he “always has it to hand”. As soon as he identifies oestrus signals he makes a note of them. Fertilizations are entered both on the shed chart and also in the oestrus calendar. He is now accustomed as soon as he enters the shed in the mornings to glance at his calendar. This means he always knows which cow he has to pay particular attention to today and over the next few days.
The computer program
Farmer Jean-Luc runs a larger farm and uses a herd management program that is directly connected to the automated milking system. He develops action lists which also include oestrus, oestrus monitoring and inseminations. His veterinary surgeon can also login to his system. She comes every fourteen days for an integrated ITB herd review and uses the data processed from the program. Her diagnoses, fertility treatments and therapies are also saved there and trigger further actions.
Young farmer Stefan uses his smartphone as an electronic oestrus calendar. He has downloaded the app Smartcow to record which cows are in oestrus. The app gives an advance alert that he has set up on which cow could perhaps be in oestrus tomorrow. Stefan can also view his fertilization data at all times in the app. As he always has his Smartphone with him he finds this form of oestrus detection very streamlined and practical. He always has the important data with him.
Take necessary time - observe calmly
Observe the animals for a quarter of an hour three times, or even better four times a day. This is what the experts recommend – but not during milking or feeding times, because at those times the cows are often more concerned with other issues than manifesting signs of oestrus. Therefore, oestrus detection has the best chances of success when someone takes the time every day to observe the animals in pasture, in the yard and also when they are resting in the shed.
Do you need tips on how you can implement the recommendations for the time required for oestrus observation in practise? Here are a few practical examples on how you can accommodate a good oestrus observation in terms of time:
A book in the shed
Farmer Gian takes evening oestrus observation one step further: “We have seasonal calving and during the fertilization season I always make sure I take time to observe the oestrus situation in my shed. I have placed an old sofa on the feeding table and spend the time reading a good book.”