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Guide 2017

Guide 20
Increasing herd size from 100 to 200 animals over the last five
years, John started looking at ways to reduce his workload
while maintaining his first-rate standards. Twelve months later,
John installed the MooMonitor+ system to help achieve his
aims and now, he says, he simply could not do without it. This
was not always the case, however.
Being a `doubting Thomas' at heart, John felt he had to test
the technology first. "We were tail-painting and looking at cows
five times a day and I wanted to use the MooMonitor+ to check
if I was missing any cows." John and his student worker did
their own trial of the system where the student continued to tail
paint the cows, even when the collars were on.
"He only tail painted for four days, because every morning
using the MooMonitor+ system I was three cows ahead
of him. He was telling me there were nine cows bulling, while
I was able to tell him there were 12 correctly identified heats.
Eventually, he gave up! The MooMonitor's accuracy is second
to none."
Animal identification, correct recording of events and other
information can be di cult to achieve at times when it is very
busy on the farm. They can be forgotten about or viewed
as less important jobs. However, having this information is
vital when you need to make important decisions that will
a ect the profitability of your farm. According to Dairymaster,
the company behind the development of MooMonitor+, all
information about your animals is stored in one place and is
available wherever you go. With one look at the screen, you
know of any calving di culties, breeding history, possible
health events and can access any comments you have entered
about the animal. Quick access to information, the company
notes, allows you to make the right decisions at the right time.
John quickly learned there was much more to the system than
just reducing workload. In the pre-breeding season, having
animal history on each cow on the app made it easy to identify
cows that were in need of a check-up. This saved a lot of time.
In previous years, a greater number of cows were unnecessarily
submitted for a vet-check resulting in higher costs.
John believes he has saved 2.5 hours looking at cows bulling
each day. Now he spends 15 to 20 minutes a day checking his
app on the phone. In addition, big improvements were seen
in reduced artificial insemination (AI) usage and a lower empty
rate of 8 per cent compared to previous years (13-14 per cent
annually). As a plus, many cows that calved `late' in March
or April were brought back to calve in February this year,
compacting his calving season.
"It wasn't as if I thought we had a lot of things wrong with the
breeding here. I felt it was taking me a lot of time to view the
cows but also I felt I could improve the system a bit more. I
Excellent cow fertility and health management have always been top priorities for John MacNamara, who farms a 200-dairy-
cow herd in Gormanstown, Co. Limerick
Wearable technology improving farming in the
Golden Vale
John MacNamara from Gormanstown,
Co. Limerick, farms a 200-dairy-cow herd.