Get the most from your activity monitoring system

Automated activity monitoring systems are now the backbone of many herd reproductive management systems.This technology is helping herds achieve reproductive results that seemed impossible only a decade ago. The growth in usage and performance of activity monitoring technology is one of the reasons we are now seeing many herds achieving a pregnancy rate of 30 percent or higher.

How do you get the most out of your activity monitoring system while ensuring your herd is getting the most return out of this capital investment? The easiest to understand but sometimes the hardest to change is the impact of cow nutrition, environment and health on your herd's reproductive performance. If cows are not cycling or cannot express estrus, they will not show up on the system.

These issues always relate back to the cow's diet, her surroundings and the animal's general health. The longer the length and high peak in activity, the more likely a cow will be picked up accurately by the system. Recent work done at the University of British Columbia looked at the factors related to peak activity levels and duration when monitoring cows with commercially available activity monitoring equipment. Each cow was fitted with an activity collar and a leg-mounted pedometer. The neck collar and leg-mounted pedometer had an estrus detection rate of 89.6 percent and 85.5 percent, respectively, during the trial.

The research showed that a low body condition score was associated with reduced peak and duration. The study also found more pregnancies per A.I. service from cows that had a higher peak activity level. Lactation and secondary signs of heat were also related to estrus.

There are many advantages to collaring all the cows, from saving time moving collars to additional health monitoring benefits and early abortion detection. If you do not budget time for this work to be done, you will not get the full benefit from the system.

Using this technology to its full potential, including all the additional features, will have the greatest impact and benefit on your herd. Depending on the manufacturer and how much you are willing to invest, there are a variety of options that can provide data on the cows in your barn.

Find out what the technology can do for you, set out goals on how you're going to use it and then invest the time to make it work.