The Need – Heat Detection
Dairy profitability depends on herd fertility, which is based on optimized lactation intervals. In maintaining good fertility, the main factor is timing. The equation is simple: identifying the exact time for breeding = improved pregnancy rates.
Detecting when animals are in heat is critical. High-yielding cows maintain short estrus periods with few visual signs. As cows can be in heat any time around the clock, nighttime heat periods may go undetected. In larger herds, the challenge is even greater, since farmers may miss animals in heat altogether.
The Need – Maintaining healthy herds
Cow health is a key factor in dairy herd profitability. Cows must be in excellent health to provide high quality milk and superior reproductive performance – and high-production cows are particularly susceptible to disease. Mastitis, ketosis, calving problems, lameness and other disorders reduce production and demand costly veterinary treatment. Ultimately, animal illness leads to financial losses that can transform a profitable dairy farm to a losing enterprise. Thus, to remain profitable, dairy farms must ensure the prevention, early detection and treatment of sick cows.
The Need – Cow Well-being and Optimum Sitting Time
Dairy cows, especially high producing ones, are particularly susceptible to health problems. To maintain their well-being, high quality milk production and reproductive function, farmers must ensure the best environmental conditions.
Animals must be free of:
- Hunger and thirst – easy access to fresh water and feed
- Discomfort – appropriate shelter and comfortable, accessible resting area
- Pain, injury or disease – treatment of health issues
- Fear and distress – elimination of stressful situations; proper protection from predators
- Cows must be able to express normal behavior – sufficient space, freedom of movement and herd hierarchy
Commercial dairy farms face a major challenge in monitoring and maintaining these conditions. As it is difficult for medium-to-large size farms to monitor their herds through observation, these factors are often neglected, resulting in financial loss for the farm.
The Need – Feed Efficiency
Great challenges surround the future availability and price of cattle feed, the greatest expense on the dairy farm.
Worldwide growth of the dairy industry has increased the demand for corn and other cattle feed crofts. Severe drought in different parts of the world, along with other factors, limits the availability of cattle feed, increasing overall feed costs. The result is a decrease in the milk per feed cost ratio.
The Need – Controlling the milking process
Animal health is directly correlated to the quality of milking and milking equipment.
Monitoring milking, controlling pulsation and cluster removal and ensuring uniform milking procedures are essential for precision milking.
The Need – Milk Production Forecast
In every business, production planning is at the heart of economic control. In the dairy industry, unlike other businesses, increasing the means of production – the number of milked cows – is either a long-term task (growing replacements) or a meaningful investment (buying pregnant cows).
The Need – Automatic tools for reducing labor
On dairy farms, increasing herd size, industrialisation and mass production has led to a shortage in trained and professional personnel.
Managing a dairy farm involves daily tasks and procedures that demand great skill and precision. For example, identifying cows that need attention, approaching and treating these animals and reporting treatment events are all labor-intensive tasks.
Recruiting and training new personnel has thus become a major challenge for dairy farms today.
The Need – Milk Safety and Quality
Every dairy operation must ensure that its milk is of high quality and safe for consumption. High quality milk is crucial for processing high quality dairy products.
Per regulations, milk displaying the following must be discarded:
- contamination by antibiotic residue and added water
- high temperature
- high DMC (Direct Microscopic Count) of bacteria
- inadequate sensory factors (smell, taste, visual)
Likewise, milk quality affects the product’s taste and shelf life, as well as the cost of manufacturing derivatives.
Parameters of milk quality:
- somatic cell count
- milk solids (fat, protein, lactose)
- mastitis pathogens (e-coli, staphylococcus)