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“Ease of Use and Accuracy of Heat Detection are Major Benefits”

Written by Richard Meredith. When you are joining up to ten cows every day of the year, heat detection is a major job, according to Jared King from Wattle Flat on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. Inaccurate heat detection can also become a major cost as more expensive sexed semen is used more widely.

Jared was brought up on a dairy farm nearby Strathalbyn, that his father later converted over to beef. Jared and his wife Megan decided to get back into dairy farming on their own, starting out share farming and now leasing the farm. They milk their own herd and supply the domestic market in South Australia. At home they have their hands full, with their four children aged ten years to just eight weeks. 

Improved Heat Detection
In March 2021, Jared installed CowManager on his 360-cow herd to make heat detection easier and more accurate. One of the big attractions of the CowManager system is the ear tag, which is easy to attach and can easily be removed if the cow leaves the herd.

"We looked at the collar system, but I didn’t like it and the bolus can't be retrieved so it leaves the farm with the cow. And the CowManager subscription system means the upfront cost is low and helps with cashflow."

Timing is Everything
Joinings are done daily throughout the year and can vary between one and ten cows a day and calving thirty to fifty animals per month. As a result, the accuracy and timing of AI has improved, and conception rates are improving. Jared is using more sexed semen and plans to move entirely to sexed semen and beef in the longer term. 

"When you waste a $25 straw on a mistimed insemination, you can live with it. But when the sexed straw costs three times that, you don’t want to get the timing wrong." 

Supplying the domestic market, they need to maintain a flat milk curve year-round. "We’re not completely flat yet because we bought some seasonal calving cows so we will batch calve for a while yet."

There are fewer vet visits and by using the CowManager Health module, Jared can get in early treatments for illnesses such as mastitis. "It's very good for transition cows. I can track them as they enter the herd and make sure they are still eating, and their rumen function is working properly."

The Future Is in The Ear
The Kings plan to increase the herd up to around five hundred on their current lease, although the increase is dependent on infrastructure. They installed a new feed pad last year. "As we grow, heat detection was becoming a bigger job. Constant checking. But with CowManager we can simplify the process." 

Although they employ up to five staff, only one is full-time and Jared manages the reproduction program on his own, using the Fertility module in the CowManager app

"There's obviously cost savings in labour, scratchies, tail paint. But I'd say the ease of use and accuracy of heat detection are the major benefits for us. We only use CIDRs on individual non-cycling cows now, so our synch costs are definitely less."



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