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March 2015

Bella Ag Health Monitoring System

By 4 years ago

We are proud to introduce the world’s best dairy cow and cattle temperature monitoring system. Designed for herd managers and vets, the Bella Ag Cattle Temperature System® allows you to monitor cattle temperature wirelessly, automatically alerting consistent high fever or low temperatures.

The True Cost of Under-performing Calves.

By Wynnstay Dairy News 4 years ago

We have been running a series of Calf Signals workshops over the last few months. These workshops have been run by vet Owen Atkinson and even though I have been to a lot of them, it’s still fascinating to learn what all the different ‘bottle necks’ are on each farm. Not surprising the most common one has been during the 0-3 month stage of life.

Digital Dermatitis - Key Prevention Strategies

By Wynnstay Dairy News 4 years ago

The Digital Dermatitis workshops held at Walford College, Shropshire and at Derimoelion Farm in South Wales were well attended. The focus of the workshops was to provide farmers with a better understanding of the diseases and to discuss nutritional and practical approaches to reducing the incidence and effect of the disease on herd performance.

Making Informed Decisions When Replacing Cows

By Wynnstay Dairy News 4 years ago

Every decision made on an animal in a commercial dairy is based on improving the herd’s profitability. You keep an animal because she is more profitable to keep than to replace. You breed animals because they will be more profitable if they become pregnant.

Transition Management

By Wynnstay Dairy Team 4 years ago

Good Transition Management is the key to good reproductive performance

“The majority of dairy cows are normal from a reproductive perspective”, that was the message from Professor Mark Crowe University of Dublin for dairy farmers attending three on farm “Pregnancies for Profit workshops run by Wynnstay in conjunction with Elanco in November 2014.

Extensive studies of ovarian function have shown that 50-80% of the dominant follicles present on the ovaries post calving will ovulate. More importantly the presence of cystic ovaries is very over reported and in reality only occurs in up to 5% of cows post calving. Pulses of Luteinizing hormone (LH) are primarily responsible for the fate of the dominant follicle and therefore it is important that we understand what affects LH secretion in order to improve fertility in the dairy cow. Professor Crowe highlighted sub optimal Body Condition Scoring (BCS) at calving, declining negative energy balance in early lactation, excessive BCS loss in early lactation and reduced DMI. These effects are directly related to poor fertility in the previous lactation and inadequate transition cow management. One of the most significant changes dairy farmers can make to their management is ensuring that all cows spend at least three weeks on the transition diet. These cows will produce more milk, get in-calf sooner and last longer in the herd as a result. As one would expect health status also has a significant effect on resumption of ovarian function. Sick cows are less likely to cycle especially those which have suffered from dystocia, retained foetal membranes or a uterine infection. Again good transition cow management is the key. Sub-clinical ketosis is one of the main indicators of poor transitional health and is the gateway for a plethora of diseases that will affect fertility, production and survival.

Effect of SKC on diseaseGraph 2
Fertility in lame cows is severely compromised. As one would expect they demonstrate less intensity of bulling activity but also produce less progesterone, have less frequent LH pulses and produce smaller follicles. In terms of fertility this demonstrates the importance of inspecting feet at drying off and adopting an effective foot bathing regime. Follicle size is also significantly affected by mastitis. The incidence of mastitis in early lactation can be reduced by good hygiene at the point of drying off and in the dry cow housing.
Uterine infections were also demonstrated to effect ovarian function. High numbers of pathogens in utero caused slower follicle growth and produced small corpus lutei. Adequate Vitamin E, Selenium and chelated minerals in the transition cow and early lactation diet has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing transitional diseases and lameness especially when combined with effective transition cow management.
According to Professor Crowe 75-85% of cows will ovulate by day 42 of lactation. Unfortunately a large proportion of these will not be seen on heat and be identified as being non-cycling and requiring intervention unless an effective method of heat detection is employed. Professor Crowe’s recommended strategy is to conduct effective pre breeding heat detection and intervening with cows not seen bulling by 42 days. With good heat detection and fresh cow monitoring the need for the vet to routinely palpate each cow post calving is greatly reduced. Fresh cow monitoring can be simplified by the use of BellaAg health boluses that measure the cow’s body temperature every 15 minutes. These are excellent at identifying the first signs of transitional health issues and negate the need for manual temperature checking. Heat detection rates can be significantly improved by increasing the frequency of observations. However in most herds the time for heat detection is at a premium. Employing a combination of methods such tail chalking, the use of activity monitors, and manual observations can pay large dividends.
Late gestation and early lactation nutrition, transition management, and introducing a structured protocol to reproductive management including pre-breeding heat detection will provide significant financial benefits from more milk and a reduction in the number of forced cullings. Transition 80/20 is an innovative approach to transition cow management introduced by Wynnstay which includes recommendations and protocols for successful transition management with associated products to support the cow through this short but key period of the production cycle.

The Lean Approach - Fertility & Health

By Wynnstay Dairy News 4 years ago

With no turnaround of global milk prices expected until the at least the last quarter of the year, producers need to look hard at their return from their variable and fixed costs. The key to weathering this difficult period will not be finding where to cut costs directly but by cutting costs through dilution, that is improving efficiency. According to leading agricultural analysts, the volatility within the dairy sector is here to stay and three key areas which will allow dairy farmers to maintain viable businesses during the periods of low returns have been highlighted;

1. Maintain a cash reserve generated from profits during the high milk price periods even if this results in paying more tax. Paying tax is an indicator of the strength of your business.

2. Investments designed to reduce your tax bill should predominantly be in facilities and technologies that improve output efficiency, i.e. cow comfort, feeding space, transition facilities, lighting, heat detection technology etc.

3. Improve technically and monitor the effects of changes using whole farm costings/benchmarking. Toyota have been the most successful motor company in the history of the industry. So what do they do that is so unique? Toyota are pioneers of lean manufacturing and the Total Production System, otherwise known as TPS. This approach is wholly responsible for their success in the world motor vehicles industry. One of the reasons is the emphasis that they place on continuous improvement. This is achieved by continually reflecting on their performance and a systematic approach to problem solving called PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act. This concept was derived from American W. Edwards Deming and is employed by Toyota to eliminate all waste that adds cost without adding value. Quite simply it revolves around repeatedly making changes to the production system and reflecting on the effect. It works because it is continuous and never stops.

Dairymen who know their costs for each input will be at a distinct advantage as they can see where the most significant opportunities are for reducing costs without affecting performance. More importantly they can continually monitor the effect of the refinements have on their costs. Response, Repeatability, Research, Return and Reassurance are the 5 most important considerations to take into account when considering the application of new technology on farm. Quite simply any change implemented has to be shown to be repeatedly effective in research trials conducted at reputable institutes and guaranteed to give you a return on investment. At Wynnstay we are strong advocates of the 5 R’s philosophy and for this reasons we have decided to put together a list of products, management regimes and technologies that meet this criteria. Based on the results of the supporting research we have also calculated an expected return of investment.

1. Transition Cow Management. Extensive studies conducted at Wisconsin University’s department of Veterinary Medicine have demonstrated that the difference between a poorly transitioned and a successfully transitioned cow is around 2500 litres per lactation. Sub clinical ketosis which is the main indicator of poor transition management costs around £690 per case. A 100 cow herd with an average incidence rate of 30% would be losing £20,700 every year. The cost of constructing new transition cow facilities with adequate lying and eating space and comfortable surface would be recouped after 1 herd cycle.

2. Improving Fertility. Pregnancy rate or risk is the most accurate measure of how efficiently cows are getting in-calf. On average one pregnancy rate point has a value of £24/cow/ year. For a 100 cows an improvement in pregnancy rate/risk of 1% is values at £2400. Pregnancy rate/risk can be improved by effective heat detection and increasing submission rates and by improving early lactation energy balance. Early lactation energy balance is affected by transition, diet and dry matter intake. An improvement in pregnancy rate/risk of 2% would return the investment made on heat detection collars in around 2 years. Combine the use of collars with manual heat detection and robust reproductive protocols and the ROI would be less.

3. Lying Times. Time budgets and stall design are two biggest factors affecting lying times. For every hour a cow lies down over 11 hours, milk yield increases 0.9 to 1.6 litres. Long milking times will affect lying times as will a shortage of feeding space when cows have to stand around and wait for a chance to feed. Checking stall dimensions and evaluating and upgrading the stall surface will give a healthy return on investment.

4. Rumen Protected Choline. Protected choline has been shown to have a positive effect on liver function and consequently milk production when fed 4 weeks pre and 8-10 weeks post calving. These results were achieved at a feed rate of no less than 15g/d. The cost of including Protected Choline in the dry and fresh cow diet for a total of 12 weeks would be £12.00. The extra milk would be worth £31 at a milk price of 25ppl.

5. Yeast. A meta-analysis of 52 production experiments showed that when live yeast was included in the diet of lactating dairy cows both DMI and milk yield were increased by around 2.5%. For a thirty litre cow that would be an extra 0.75litres at 25ppl which would be worth 18.75p. The cost of including live yeast in the diet would be approximately 6p/day. 6. Long Day Lighting. Providing long day lighting throughout the majority of the year for dairy cows has been shown to increase milk production by between 5 and 12% with a concurrent increase in DMI. Taking the lowest reported response of 5% would equate to a return on investment of around 8 months.

7. Including Availa chelated minerals in dairy and youngstock diets has been shown to benefit immunity, fertility, mammary health, claw integrity, milk production and milk quality and has been demonstrated in over 50 peer reviewed papers. The Wynnstay Team can provide the tools for measuring the success of the PDCA approach and can also support the establishment of benchmarking groups. Toyota has built its successful business on the Total Production System and the Wynnstay Team is here to help you adopt these practices to maximize efficiency and profitability.

Written by Dr. Huw McConoche - Head of Dairy Technical Services

For more information contact dairy@wynnstay.co.uk