From management in Otago to 50/50 sharemilking in Northland, Peter Slade and Alyse Fisher are focused on caring for their cattle and creating both a sustainable and profitable dairy farm. Focusing on their herd’s needs and providing everything needed to perform comes as second nature to Peter and Alyse.

Now in their third season as 50/50 sharemilkers Peter and Alyse have invested in the cow monitoring system CowManager to help increase the overall efficiency of their herd by making decisions based on accurate data.

“So far CowManager has helped take us from reactive management of the herd to proactive management, often we know cows have some form of sickness days before they start showing physical signs.

“Being able to detect sickness in our cows earlier means we can monitor and treat those cows before they go down and become unproductive.

“On this farm, we have had issues with what is called hardware disease. Hardware disease is caused by cattle consuming small metal objects, the objects can then pierce the sidewall of the stomach, become lodged and cause a variety of other issues for the cattle.”

One of their cows had it really bad, Peter said and unfortunately died from the disease.

“We had the vet perform an autopsy which is how we first diagnosed the issue as hardware disease. Now with the help of CowManager’s in-depth analytics, we can see the pattern for hardware disease in our cows and treat them with a magnet.

“It is amazing to watch their activity climb again after treatment and gives us real satisfaction that now with CowManager we can act fast and have a serious impact on the health and performance of our cows.”

In Northland’s very hot summers, naturally, just like humans the cows overheat. Prior to CowManager the couple knew this was an issue and had tried various methods to help cool the herd.

“We were recommended a heat pack for the herd and naturally were a little sceptical. We decided to give it a go and after only the first feed using the Nutritech heat stress packs, we stopped receiving red heat stress alerts between 8.00 and 10.00am. Instead, if we got any at all, they would be around 3.00pm and only as suspicious heat stress.

“We noticed the average ear temperature of the herd dropped by around a degree. Over the rest of summer, we only had two red group heat stress alerts which were on two of the hottest days. Without CowManager we would still be left wondering about how effective the heat packs had been.”

CowManager went in two weeks before mating last season. They were a little unsure about trusting the system 100%. They felt tail painting was going to still be their main heat detection and that CowManager was to be the backup. Four days in and tail paint was gone and they were relying on CowManager for all heat detection.

“We had cows with untouched tail paint so we put them up and the technician would say yeah sure enough she is on.”

Accurately detecting silent heats and removing the worry of tailpaint was a game-changer, Peter and Alyse said. To put the system in two weeks out from mating and to rely on it and get an increase in six-week in-calf rate was pretty unreal.

“Fertility was definitely one of our biggest draws to the system. Getting cows in calf is critical to any dairy operation. Having seen such success with the health and fertility modules, we decided to give CowManagers Nutrition module a go as we had access to a free trial.

“Originally I never saw myself using the Nutrition Module,” Peter said, “but now after experiencing it and seeing the value first hand the combination of the Nutrition Module and Health Module is almost going to have a bigger effect on our fertility rates than even the fertility module itself.”

They have a few paddocks of fescue which the cows don’t like. With CowManager, they were able to clearly see just how much they hate it.

“Whenever we graze it, we consistently get feed intake alerts anytime from 9pm. Their eating and rumination both drop with an increase in activity. We would turn up in the morning and the girls still have over 2200 feed coverage and rather than eating the fescue, they are all sitting on it.”

Managing transition periods, getting feed right and maintaining a healthy herd heavily contributes to getting the herd in calf. CowManager being a discreet ear sensor was a no brainer. The cows are used to tags in their ears so there is no adjustment for them after installing them, and once installed there is no need to touch them.

“When we first got the system there was a running bet in the neighbourhood about what the solar routers onfarm were for as the CowManager ear tags are so discreet no one even noticed them on the cows. People always ask if we lose many ear tags but we haven’t lost any. We have had two come out in the feed pad which were found and retagged the same day.”

CowManager has been a valuable addition to their dairy operation and they are excited about what they can achieve.