Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : May 2011 Contents 70 The Dairyman MAY 2011
AUSTRALIA'S first herd to install
innovative heat detection system
Heatime is submitting 30 more cows
to AI every month and achieving 10 per cent
David and Karen Altmann's South
Australian operation has a 365-day rolling
herd production average of 12,000 litres on
500 cows (450 in-milk year-round) milking
three times a day at Murray Bridge.
The couple's higher production translated
into shorter heats and while they did not join
their cows before they were 50 days fresh,
heat detection was an issue and a tie for
The two-year-old heifers (in particular)
produce 94 per cent of the herd's mature-
aged cows' production, and they had been
the most challenging to get pregnant.
"One of the biggest bug bears for me if I
went away (and I didn't go away that much)
was heat detection," David said. "You might
have a cluster of cows on heat and three or
four obvious cows standing and you might
have another three or four milling around.
You're not always sure if they on or not.
"We milk three times a day on a Total
Mixed Ration system and we're around these
cows all the time and yet we were still miss-
"I wanted to take all that guesswork out of
the whole game and relieve the pressure on
the two or three of us that do all the heat
The breakthrough technology, designed in
Israel, is marketed in Australia by Semex.
"I had been waiting for something that
wasn't a pedometer, so to speak," David said.
"This is a little bit different and I was con-
vinced that finally something had come out
that was going to be really accurate.
"We've found a lot of cows have their peak
heat in the middle of the night. Another thing
that's changed is that we're now mating cows
at the right times. I had a cow the other
morning that was red-hot on heat and I was
sure the system would pick her up.
"It didn't, but it did trigger that she was on
heat during the lunchtime milking. If I had-
n't had the Heatime, I would have mated her
that morning -- too early."
They are eight months into the changeover
and they are using 1.8 straws of semen per
cow (per pregnancy) on the cows and 1.7
straw of semen on the heifers. Pregnancies
are up 10 per cent.
The collars fit snugly around the cows
necks and while collars could be rotated
David decided to collar the entire herd.
"We have cows calving every day, so I
bought 150 collars up front and collared all
the cows as they calved in May. We've col-
lared the rest as they came forward to calve.
"It was a way to handle the investment
within our cashflow. I could have recycled
collars and deleted information once cows
were in calf, but I wanted the historical infor-
He said they had a simple 44-stand rotary
with no "bells or whistles", and the system
was simple to install.
It works on individual cow neck move-
ment, rather than the herd's average move-
ment. A reading is recorded every two hours
and another reading records the average of
those two-hourly readings.
"It's also great for picking up sick or cys-
tic cows because either their individual
movement activity drops right down and it
alerts you that they are not interacting with
the herd as they would normally, or, if
they're cystic, the system catches their heats
in quick succession. It would also great for
programming cows for embryo transfer
David is convinced he made a decision
that not only strengthened a critical part of
their business. It has also eased his workload
and decision making.
"Now, the kids can go out and get the
cows and it doesn't really matter any more
because we know that the cows that are on
heat are going to be picked up. The pressure
of heat detection here is gone. I love it."
* More than 500,000 collars are being
used worldwide. At a recent US presentation
Joe Stewart, of Stewart Farms in Idaho,
reported that Heatime had a 54.5 per cent
conception rate, a 30-day reduction in days
open and a decreased calving interval to
12.6 months within a rolling herd average of
26,504 pounds of milk.
Fresh technology in heat detection
"We milk three times
a day on a Total Mixed
Ration system. We're
around these cows all
the time, and yet we
were still missing
Left: David Altmann with his 2009
Royal Adelaide Show champion
Blackwood Park Favourite 10.
0800 262 733 | www.crv4all.co.nz
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