New tech to boost cow productivity and sustainability

Dairy technology company Waikato Milking Systems has introduced an exciting new product to help farmers make better long-term decisions for care of their herd, and their dairy businesses.

The company recently launched its new CowTRAQ Collars and TracHQ software in partnership with dairy management technology company, Nedap. Waikato GM sales and operations ROW Jamie Mikkelson said CowTRAQ Collars offer complete heat and health monitoring for every cow in the herd.

“The collars can identify each cow and keep track of their signs of heat, position, eating, rumination, standing, lying, walking and inactive behaviour 24/7. It provides a precise and complete picture about the fertility, health, well-being and nutritional status of each cow and each herd.”

Benefits for reproduction, health and farm management

The collars offer farmers a chance to improve in several areas, depending on the focus or the season.

“If it’s improvement in reproduction results farmers are looking for, the collars can help increase heat detection rates, increase submission rates and increase conception rates through better timing of AI,” he added.

“Better cow health and condition is also an important area where the collars can make a difference, by detecting health issues earlier. That means treatment and recovery can be more effective, fertility can improve and long-term it can reduce mortality rates.”

The data the collars produce can also improve farm management.

“Farmers can use group and herd insights to chart the animal patterns, evaluate performance and then determine what the best long-term management improvements should be. The data is also available as a resource to share with AI technicians and nutritionists, so they get an insight into cow and herd behaviours.”

Jamie said the data the collars supply can save on costs and give cows the individual attention they need. “It means farmers can focus resources on the right cows, at the right time, with the correct treatment. It’ll help them keep a close eye on the health, comfort and wellbeing of their animals while increasing production using the same or fewer resources.”

It will also give farm owners and their staff peace of mind, knowing the collars are doing the hard work collecting information on each of the cows, which will save time for other tasks and activities.

Technology offers practical data

TracHQ software translates data captured by the collars into information the operator can understand and easily view on a PC, tablet or smartphone. Everyone working on the farm can have access to real-time information and insights on each cow or herd.

“It can generate real-time and relevant alerts, to-do lists, reports and barn maps to help manage and control the herd,” Jamie said.

TracHQ also integrates with farm automation systems and dairy management programs. It can easily connect with Waikato Milking System’s range of milking point controls, milk indicators, milk meters and milk analytical sensors, providing a high level of information on each cow at every milking time.

“TracHQ can also connect with our automated sorting system, to automatically sort animals that are either on heat or have an alert that has been raised against their number.”

Jamie said the TracHQ software brings together an unmatched range of monitoring features and management tools in a highly advanced system that is still easy to use and understand. “It shows you how external factors and management decisions influence the herd’s performance.

“Group behavior reports on herd performance offer a valuable tool to measure and evaluate the impact of (changed) feeding strategies, housing conditions, grazing and milking procedures. So you have fact-based information to continuously optimise your management and improve your bottom line.”

Jamie said animal monitoring is an essential tool to keep cows healthy, fertile and productive. “TracHQ compares all behavior with standards for optimum condition, the previous behavior of the cow and the behavior of the group she is in and detects changes or abnormalities.

“It provides the earliest and most reliable health alerts for cows that need urgent attention, allowing you to treat health issues before they become problems.”

Going the distance

TracHQ is a modular solution so upgrading to include auto sorting and integration to milking solutions and feeding in the future is simple.

The technology comes with a three-year, 100 per cent replacement warranty, and graded warranty thereafter. Typically, the operating life is 8-10 years so it outperforms and goes the distance.

Jamie said the new technology will help farmers improve their bottom line by making data-driven decisions. “Together, CowTRAQ and TracHQ give farmers an all-in-one, 24/7 cow management system to help them meet the challenges of operating a modern dairy farm.”


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