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An Innovative Assistant
Family Schwaerzles standing in a barn with their cows

It’s been a busy 20+ years for the Schwaerzles (Armstrong, BC, Canada), CowManager customers since 2018. 
L-R: Cassidy, Dwayne, Kim, Abbey, Brayden.
Article (by Tars Cheema) originally published in BC Holstein News, shared with permission.

When I finally reached Dwayne Schwaerzle to hear about his farming experiences in Armstrong, I was surprised to hear that the kid I had known through 4-H had already been dairying for more than 20 years and that he and Kim have been married for 23. Their daughters are finished high school and their 16-year old son is planning to join the farm. This is the cycle of life, and an unexpected reminder of my own advancing days in dairy!

Dwayne and Kim started off milking 35 cows in Agassiz for about eight years before settling on their 100-acre farm in Armstrong. “I had room to grow here. And we’ve grown to milk about 100 cows now”, he shares. But it’s not been easy as a ‘one man show’. With the added work of cropping many more rented acres, Dwayne was paying a price for not being around the cows, catching heats.

Looking for a Heat Detection System 
He began investigating the options for heat-detection systems and was directed to speak with former Fraser Valley farming neighbour John Hylkema (in Saskatchewan). “When I talked with John three years ago, he had been using CowManager for three years. He was convinced.” CowManager is a stand-alone innovation that tracks a variety of cow metrics through a sophisticated eartag technology.

Dwayne doesn’t waffle, “I love it! I use it mostly for heat detection – at first I would be double-checking it – but I pretty much rely on it 100% now.” The tag monitors temperature and distinguishes between various movements, to identify and track everything from heat, rest, eating, rumination and no movement. Beyond the primary support to his herd reproduction program, it can provide alerts for ‘off’ cows, from off feed, reduced mobility, reduced rumination – all the indicators that a herdsman might pick up by watching his cows constantly.

"It's Like Having an Assistant Herdsman"
Dwayne estimates that the system can identify an ‘off’ cows 12 hours sooner than he would pick her up. He appreciates that it actually tracks the stages of heat to help pinpoint the best breeding time. “I can find the ‘silent heat; cows and I don’t need to PG as much.” Another aspect that could prove helpful is the storage of his data off the farm, in the event of catastrophe with the home computer.

While Dwayne looks forward to a day when he can upgrade his double-eight milking parlour with newer innovations, he’s pleased that the CowManager system has bridged the gap in the barn.

“I’m by myself, there’s never enough time to be in the barn, especially in the summer. It’s like having an assistant herdsman.”