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Installing CowManager has a snowball effect on labor and profitability

“Installing CowManager has a snowball effect. We are saving money through labor, giving fewer shots and buying less semen, because we are getting cows bred sooner.” Rusty and Rachel Kummer, Mondovi, Wis.
Published in 'The Point', by CentralStar

Three years ago, Rachel and Rusty Kummer purchased their 250-cow dairy from Rachel’s dad, naturally leaving the same amount of work with fewer hands to get it done. That, along with a need to improve the herd’s reproduction led to investigating electronic herd monitoring systems. In June 2018, CowManager was installed.  
Two and a half years later, the Mondovi, Wisconsin dairy has seen measurable improvements in the herd’s reproduction and health, which has had a snowball effect on labor and profitability. 

Reproduction Pregnancy Rate
Originally using a walk and chalk breeding program, Triple Row Dairy transitioned to timed A.I., but Rachel wasn’t satisfied. “We didn’t like the amount of labor it took or giving all those shots,” said Rachel. “We don’t have headlocks so there is no good way to sort cows, which means we do the work in the parlor, which really slows things down.” With CowManager installed Rachel said, “we’ve significantly reduced the number of shots we give. Instead of giving 20, we might only give three, saving us time and money. The majority of cows are now bred based on activity.”  
To ensure every cow is bred by 100 days in milk (DIM), a PreSynch program is initiated at 45 days with cows that are not showing activity. Cows that respond to the second PreSynch shot are identified by CowManager and bred on standing heat. Cows that do not respond to PreSynch are enrolled in OvSynch.   
Since installing CowManager the herd’s DIM window has tightened up considerably. Today every cow is bred (up to three times, if needed), before 200 DIM. This has a big impact on keeping DIM low and production high. “In the past our days in milk would get really long,” said Rachel. “I’d try to give cows excuses to stay in the herd. With CowManager we’ve cleaned that area up because another more profitable cow is ready to take the spot of one that won’t breed back.”

“We depend on the health alerts,” said Rachel. “CowManager allows us to focus our time on the cows that need it.” Prior to installing CowManager all fresh cows were temperature checked daily for two weeks and according to Rachel, “we still didn’t confidently know if cows were eating and feeling well. Now there’s no question. CowManager catches the not so obvious “sick” cows earlier and we are able to treat them before having to pull them out of the tank.” The health feature available through CowManager provides very early detection of health issues and their severity based on behavior and ear temperature, while providing ongoing insights into recovery. The immediacy of the health alerts became invaluable to Triple Row Dairy when the herd experienced an outbreak of manneheimia haemolytica, a deadly respiratory disease. “The only reason we saved as many cows as we did is because of CowManager,” said Rachel. “It’s one of those problems that by the time the cow looks sick, it’s too late. If it hadn’t been for the system, the losses would have been catastrophic.”

Like most dairies, Triple Row Dairy can’t completely put away the help wanted sign, but CowManager has certainly improved efficiencies in a multitude of areas. “CowManager has reduced the amount of labor needed to breed cows and it flags the cows that need attention because they may not be feeling well,” said Rachel. “Whether it’s a cow that needs to be bred, one that isn’t eating well, or a cow that’s supposed to be pregnant that has slipped her calf – the alerts help us prioritize our time. It even helps us find cows quicker because it tells us which barn they are in.”

With improved reproduction, the dairy has changed their genetic strategy, now using beef semen on the bottom end of the herd. “Cole (Mark, CentralStar Genetic Consultant and dealer of CowManager in the United States) helped setup this system and is monitoring it to make sure we are getting enough heifer calves,” said Rachel. “We’ve always had a few beef calves to sell, but with this plan we have more. We may try to shore up a better market for these calves as they bring a little better price than Holsteins.” “Installing CowManager has a snowball effect,” shared Rachel. “We are saving money through labor, giving fewer shots and buying less semen, because we are getting cows bred sooner. We’ve tightened up our days in milk and are selling fewer cows because they didn’t get bred. When the cows are working well, we don’t have to raise as many replacements, which saves money in other places. It all adds up.”

Before & With CowManager
Before CowManager many cows went as late as 150 DIM before being bred for the first time. With CowManager the first service window has tightened to about 35 days. Now, every cow is bred by 105 DIM and the majority are identified in natural heats by CowManager before being enrolled in OvSynch.

Before CowManager

With CowManager