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Efficient Usage of Activity Meters During Heat Period

Usage of pedometers / activity meters takes the lead among the most recommended methods for detecting heat in cattle farming. So, having the max performance of pedometers has a particular significance in detecting heat. For this reason, activity meters should be performing in a secure environment to detect heat.

09 Apr 2019   |    Pedometer, Dairy Operations, Heat in Cows

Efficient Usage of Activity Meters During Heat Period

One of the most typical problems that cattle breeders encountered is the heat detection phase.. Cows that are not inseminated for a long time may have overlooked signs of heat, or they may not really be showing heat which may confuse staff. . Because the source of this problem cannot be detected, it makes things even more complicated.

At this point, the use of pedometer/activity meter shows its effect as a technology that helps herd management. Activity meters that attached to the neck of the cattle, record and analyze the physical activity of cattle for 24/7. What makes these devices special is the sensitivity such that devices can detect all the activity of animals even the invisibleones. When it detects an unusual activity, instantly notifies the farmers/workers via SMS.

However, there are prerequisites that must be fulfilled before the integration of this technology. When these prerequisites are not satisfied, severe drops in overall yield may be experienced with it. In other words, in the presence of any of the following adversities, this technology may not be able to detect heat in cows that take place concurrently or alternatively, may output incorrect signals of heat.

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Technological Challenges

It is possible to group technological challenges in four headings as follows:

Tied Status of Animals

The pedometer continuously measures the activities of a cow to detect heat. Whenever an increase is detected in activity, it performs an elaborate analysis to inform the user “depending on the probability of heat”. However, the degree of increase in cow\'s activities during heat is greatly restricted when the cow is tied. For this reason, it is difficult to determine the heat of tied cows compared to untied cows. In such a case, one may confidently argue that the efficiency of detecting heat in cows drops roughly by 30%.

Synchronisation

Hormonal manipulations in animals change their activities. In this case, activity of animals which actually are not in heat may increase excessively. In synchronized animals, it is necessary to get support from experts about pedometer usage.

Overcrowded Barns

In order for estrous cows to perform any activity, they need to have sufficient space. In some operations, there is no space left for cows to move, once after bedding is performed. In such cases, losses shall be encountered in performance of pedometers at increasing rates depending on the scarcity of space.

Slippery Concrete Floor

One of the key indicative activities of heat in cows is the mounting behavior. A cow reaching heat allows mounting behaviour of others and remains in this position for a certain while. On smooth concrete floors, mounting of one cow on another may result in skidding of feet. And if an animal slipped once, would not attempt to mount on another, at a second time. In such cases, because activity of animals would be limited, the performance of pedometers can be negatively influenced.

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User Errors

It is obvious that use of the devices with full awareness on their effective and efficient operation is also essential. The Users generally tend to leave unnoticed the fact that the below listed conditions adversely affect the pedometers’ overall performance in their operations.

Malnutrition

If protein-rich nutrients are persistently used to feed dairy cattle, their movements are encumbered substantially. In this case, signs of heat fade out, as well. A significant drop will occur in the performance of the pedometers, at the same level and extent signs of heat fade out.

Permanent Group Exchange

If protein-rich nutrients are persistently used to feed dairy cattle, their movements are encumbered substantially. In this case, signs of heat fade out, as well. A significant drop will occur in the performance of the pedometers, at the same level and extent signs of heat fade out.

Permanent Group Exchange

Livestock are accommodated in groups that are physically distributed across multiple compartments at farm operations. Recurrent interchange of animals between groups is not an advisable practice for many reasons. During group interchanges, animals may react suddenly and the average activity of the herd changes beyond expectations. And in such cases, temporal drops in performance shall be reported by pedometers in animals of the concerned group.

Late Inspection

If pedometer issues a heat warning with respect to an animal, it means that activity has been continuing for some time. This period of time generally falls within the range of 4 to 7 hours. Therefore, activity may start to fade away around the time of receipt of said warning. In the event a warning is received a preliminary observation must be done as soon as possible. If the time until such observation is prolonged, the activity may have faded completely, leading the farmer to conclude a visual examination negative, although, in fact, the animal has reached heat.

Tying Up the Animal Upon Visual Diagnosis

At operations, when workers detect or notice an estrous cycle all by themselves, they should be able to pull and tie the animals somewhere else. In that case, since there will be a sudden drop in activity of the cow, despite the pedometer still running in tracking mode, the system will not give any heat warning. At operations using pedometers, when workers detect or notice an estrous cycle, they should note down which animal was detected on heat and at what time of the day, and the veterinarian be informed, before any intervention is made to the animal.

Bull Usage

A male wandering around inside the herd affects activity females. In a herd using pedometers, the bull should be fed in a separate place. Only after a warning is issued by the pedometers, may the bull be moved into the same place.

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