Farmers are utilizing technology more and more in their day to day operations. Technology can save time and labor on a farm. Activity systems are becoming more popular to use as a tool to monitor reproductive process.
Activity systems are a health monitoring system that measures the movement and vibrations of cattle similar to the health trackers we wear on our wrists. On heifers and cows, tags can be located on the ear, on a collar around their neck, or on their ankle. The information gets transmitted from the tag to an antenna, and onto your computer. Depending on the system, the information could even go directly to your smartphone. Activity systems vary in their abilities. A simple system will measure movement only, while more complex systems can detect rumen function, temperature, GPS location of the animal, and eating times.
The systems work by monitoring activity level of the heifer or cow. It gathers a baseline, and then alerts the farmer when activity is higher, signaling the cow might be in heat. If the activity falls below the baseline, it may indicate a potential health condition in the cow that should be further investigated.
These systems offer a variety of potential benefits. The breeding program and time between pregnancies could improve. The system will help detect possible early health problems, which will save money in vet bills if caught early. Keeping cows healthy ensures that they are more efficient and productive as a whole. However, these systems are very expensive (depending on what kind of information you would like), they need to be updated regularly, and time is involved to interpret the information from the monitors.
If you do choose to go with an activity system, be sure to do your research! Several companies offer an ROI calculator based off of items that could potentially gained by using their product. Most importantly, make sure you choose a product that is going to work for you and fit seamlessly into your operation.
“Is an Activity System Right for Your Dairy?” Penn State Extension