Catching more heat cycles in beef production can improve reproduction rates and save time.
With the new SenseHub™ Beef monitoring system, producers can detect more heats in a timely fashion and spend less time observing cattle for signs of estrus.
With better timing of estrus, more cows can be bred on time. A seminal study at Colorado State University followed animals administered an estrus synchronization protocol. Cows were monitored for standing estrus 24 hours a day or twice a day for 30 minutes.
By day 5 after estrus synchronization, 95% of animals monitored 24 hours a day were detected in standing estrus, while only 56% of animals observed for a half-hour twice a day were detected in standing estrus.
“No one can go watch their cows and heifers 24/7, but SenseHub will monitor their activity around the clock for you,” said Andy Dorn of Allflex Livestock Intelligence.
SenseHub ear tags sense micromovements associated with key animal behaviors, such as estrus, rumination, grazing, stress or health events. The tags record and transmit the data via field stations to an office computer or smart phone.
SenseHub rates the intensity of estrus and offers a breeding-window function for each cow tagged. Animals needing inspection for possible health challenges also are reported in a simple and easy format, Dorn said.
Impact on reproduction efficiency
For several years, Allflex has been demonstrating the technology on beef operations around the U.S. These producers have been able to increase the reliability of estrus detection and reproduction in their cow herd, Dorn said.
“I know exactly the onset of estrus and can pinpoint my breeding window. This has saved 4 to 6 hours per A.I. group, which frees me to manage breeding and calf health. My conception rates increased 8% in the first year and have been 5% above average in the last two years,” said Reiss Bruning of Bruning Farms in Nebraska.
“I am able to get the benefits of manually watching heats without having to commit the hours out of my day. I can also do bigger AI groups, which has helped narrow my first-cycle calving window by 10 to 14 days,” Bruning explained.
Sam Shaw of Shaw Cattle Company in Idaho has had similar results. “We get our cows bred up better, as far as heat detection, managing labor and workforce, plus the health aspect. The added value is getting that early AI pregnancy or that ET calf in that recip. Increasing our conception rate and getting those heifers bred up right, instead of being bred by the clean-up bull or being open, that’s value for us,” said Shaw.
Near real-time reporting
Movements recorded can be tied to adverse changes in grazing, ration or feeding protocol and response to stress, heat, weather, dystocia, aborted pregnancies, predation or other issues.
For animal health, monitoring helps Identify sick animals earlier, allowing for use of less costly medications and/or a better response to treatment, and identify cows stressed by separation from their calves.
Tags report data every 20 minutes, but also can hold data for 24 hours and then upload their data when they come into range of a SenseHub field antennae.
This controller is an easy-to-install box mounted on a post or structure. It sends data to the farm’s network of phones and office computers.
The dashboard has a simple look and basic design as a to-do list. The information also offers data visualization for producers who wish to monitor details like daily rumination, eating, animal movement or heat activity.
Dorn noted that labor shortages in the beef industry can be mitigated with remote sensing.
“Producers in other ag sectors are using ag-tech tools to make their lives easier and run their farms with lower labor inputs,” he said. “In beef production, we all are pressed for time, too. With SenseHub, you can monitor your cows in a timely manner, intervene wisely and have more time to do other things.”