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We Know Everything We Need To Know About A Cow!
CHuck and Mark Fahey from Pairieland Dairy

In play since February 2020 Jim, Chuck and Mark Fahey shared, "CowManager basically tells us everything we need to know about a cow," during their virtual farm tour at World Dairy Expo. See how CowManager's real-time alerts are impacting several areas at the dairy. CowManager’s orange ear tag transmits data every 15-minutes, providing real-time information to manage from. Individual animal alerts are pushed to your phone, which eliminates spending hours a day looking for sick cows and cows in heat. Instead, time and attention can be prioritized to animals that need it most.

“It gives you alerts and tells you how critical they are,” said Chuck of the health alerts he receives to his phone. “A yellow alert means there’s something suspicious going on, and a red alert means we need to go look at the cow now. It has really helped us prioritize our time.”

Herd health improves
Since installing CowManager, the dairy has seen a steady decline in health events. Metritis is down 53%, milk fever 75%, ketosis 22%, retained placentas 70% and abortions 39%. The reduction in health events leads to less labor and money spent on treatment, while preserving milk production. Additionally, the herd reports fewer cow deaths and cows sold, which has a positive effect on profits through inventory.

The CowManager system helps us to identify that sick cow before she physically looks ill. Now we can take that cow with minimal issues, deal with minimal issues and have her back in the milk line sooner, or she never leaves the milk line,” shared herd Veterinarian, Dr. Jessica Powell, PMJ Farm Service.

Previously, the Fahey’s monitored parlor milk weights to identify cows that might not be feeling well. “By the time we saw a drop in production, chances are the cow was really down and out, and it was probably too late,” shared Chuck. “With CowManager we pick up cows that are sick within five or six hours. It’s a wonderful system.”

This summer the dairy trialed CowManager’s new transition feature, which uses machine learning during the dry period to predict which animals are most susceptible to having problems post-freshening.

As one of the first herds in the U.S. to utilize this feature, Phil Dieter, CentralStar Chief Executive Officer shared, “It means you can significantly reduce the number of animals that will have health issues, weeks prior to the event occurring. Once an animal is identified you give a direct-fed microbial or appetite stimulant like Tri-Start Bolus or BioFresh® Bolus and use minimally invasive practices to prevent the future sickness. This approach has had an impact on this herd’s improvement in health events. It’s really impactful data to manage with.”

Submission rate soars
All cows are enrolled and bred through a Double Ovsynch program and CowManager is used to identify animals needing subsequent service. Currently, Prairieland has a 32% pregnancy rate and 74% submission rate.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Prairieland for over 15 years, and their reproduction has always been very good,” shared Phil. “Typically, our benchmark is to have a 60% or higher submission rate, and they’ve always achieved that, so I didn’t think we were going to get much of a jump in this area when CowManager was installed. My prediction was wrong, submission rates are currently at 74%. Double Ovsynch and CowManager work really well together, so we are now maximizing every opportunity a cow can be inseminated.”

When repro gets this good
When a herd achieves high reproduction efficiency, it is not necessary to create replacements from every animal. As such, the Fahey’s implemented a strategic breeding program to maximize profit from every animal. The herd’s top genetics are bred to elite Holstein sires to develop the necessary replacement animals. Animals the dairy no longer needs replacements from are bred to beef semen, maximizing the end product value.

“We were getting so full in our heifer sheds and were spending too much time and money treating health issues on heifers we didn’t even need,” recalled Chuck. “Using beef semen allowed us to initially get rid of raising extra heifers, while creating a place to raise beef and add value. This has worked great for us so far and may be a way to grow the operation in the future.”

Milk production
“We are pushing more of a forage diet,” shared Mark. “We are using more homegrown forages, so we don’t have to buy by-products. We are trying to maintain production on our own feed, because that’s where the profit is going to be. I am really happy we have been able to hold production, or gain a little, and that’s because overall our herd is healthier and CowManager certainly helps with that.”

Running a dairy is like being an NFL coach
“When you're in this business you're like an NFL coach,” shared Jim. “You surround yourself with good people and it makes life much easier.” Chuck added, “CentralStar is really amazing. They really treat us well. The whole group is phenomenal to work with.” Mark concluded, “We are blessed to have great employees. They are very good and care about what we do.”

Watch the full story here