Dairy cows achieve high milk production and reproduction results only when they are healthy and their basic behavioral needs are provided for, equally important are correct nutrition and environmental parameters. Behavior of cows requires constant and precise observation. Behavior of dairy cows is an excellent indicator, because any long-term or short-term deviation from the norm is very important signal of cow welfare, allowing for quicker decision making on significant issues affecting the farm. Additionally, unnecessary expenses can be avoided, as well as production efficiency can be increased and health parameters and reproduction can improve.
Behavior and welfare
If cows are kept in good conditions and welfare, they behave in the same way every day. Dairy cows spend a lot of time on rumination (450–550 minutes / day). This is a very important health indicator – if appetite and rumination decreases, we can expect reduction in daily milk production. Furthermore, cows spend approximately 350 – 450 minutes / day on feed consumption. A decrease of time spent around feeding area may also indicate some kind of health problem. Cows in free-stall barns equipped with the right amount of comfortable stalls, spend about 600-700 minutes per day lying down. The amount of time spent and frequency of cows lying down is an extremely important factor influencing the correct functioning of the rumen and the udder. Daily activity of cows, such as the length of time spent on standing or walking, is also an excellent indicator of health, and can also help in heat detection. Cows, which stand for too long, may have a greater lameness predisposition. Among the factors that affect the level of the wellbeing experienced are also the environmental conditions in the barn.
Temperature, light, humidity
Dairy cows have a big gas chamber inside of their body, in which fermentation occurs producing significant amounts of heat. When high air temperature (above 25 ° C) and humidity (above 80%) occur at the same time, body can’t regulate temperature, which may result in heat stress. The serious consequences of heat stress can demonstrate at a later time (for example: miscarriages, difficult labor, ketosis). Cows tolerate low winter temperatures much better than summer ones. The temperature range in which the cattle feel comfortable is -10 ° C to + 20 ° C. The body temperature of adult dairy cattle is 38–39.3 ° C. The increase may indicate beginning of an illness.
Cows farmed for voluminous milk production need suitable photoperiod and light intensity (110–220 lx). Best production results are achieved with 16-18 hours of the light period, followed by 6 to 8 hours of darkness.
Observation of animal behavior is very important, but a breeder cannot spend so much time in the barn. In addition, herds are becoming more numerous, and some of the parameters, such as the beginning of metabolic disease, silent heat or other health problems requiring specialist visit, are difficult to observe. These hidden diseases are secretly stealing money from our pockets. There are many systems on the market that monitor cow behavior 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The best systems register several behaviors at the same time. The information can be received much faster, than if we were to observe them ourselves, for example, the clinical symptoms of an advanced disease, approaching labor, miscarriage or the ideal time to inseminate. The costs and incurred losses resulting from the need for treatment, missed heat or many other situations can be minimized or even avoided.
Monitoring system help farmers in effective herd management. The variety of functions that the system has, allows to analyze various data at the same time which gives us a whole picture on overall health and animal welfare. Cow monitoring system e-stado measures the animal’s daily activity and gives us information about time of rumination and feeding intake per day, body temperature, photoperiod, temperature and humidity in the building (heat stress indicator), beginning of calving time and parturition.
With e-stado we can decrease the costs of treatment and reproduction, using less portions of semen for successful insemination, shorten the period between calving, prevent miscarriages, increase milk yield from a cow, ensure proper nutrition, longevity of cows and at the same time increase production income. Cows monitoring system e–stado can be used in free-stall barns, tie-stall barns and on the pasture.