Cogent’s Precision services paving the way for herd data collection

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Cogent Breeding’s Precision service is now providing dairy farmers across Northern Ireland with the MooMonitor heat detection system.

Using the information from the MooMonitor collars, the Cogent AI breeding technicians are delivering improved conception rates on a growing number of dairy farms.

“Our team of highly trained technicians are able to view the real time information that is being generated for each individual farmer, when they visit each farm daily. The technicians are fully aware before arriving which cows are in heat, this then forms the basis of a decision on which animals should be inseminated,” says Ashley Fleming, Regional Sales Manager, Northern Ireland for Cogent.

The discussion takes account of issues such as the time since the cow last calved, her body condition score and other aspects of the animal’s general health. The technician will carry out all the required insemination work. The overall aim of the new Precision AI Service is to improve a herd’s calving index in ways that reduces the number of semen straws that are used.

Alistair Smith milks 178 cows at Garvaghy Road, Banbridge, Co Down. There are an additional 70 replacement heifers on the farm. The herd is currently averaging 9,500l at 4.22% butterfat and 3.38% protein. Alistair recently signed up to the service available from Cogent.

“We are already picking up cows that produce silent heats,” says Mark Wray, Herdsman “while the Moo Monitor collar is primarily for the detection of the cow’s heat the software is also very effective in flagging-up cows with a range of health problems.”

A case in point was the recent identification of a freshly calved cow in the early stages of pneumonia. She was showing no physical symptoms at all, yet it was quickly confirmed that the animal was running a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A quick course of antibiotics solved the problem. It is also evident that MooMonitors are also able to tell when a cow is close to the point of calving.

Cogent Precision Technician William McElroy is a daily visitor to the Smith farm and explains: “I can download the Farm Wizard information made available for the farm onto my own phone.”

William continues: “The system also allows me to build up a fertility history of each individual cow. For example, if a specific animal is identified to be in heat but deemed not to be suitable for insemination at that time, this information will be uploaded on to the Farm Wizard system.”

Farm owner Alistair Smith is using the Precision Health and Fertility service in tandem with Cogent’s SexedULTRA 4M straws of both dairy and beef semen. A recent pregnancy scanning confirmed 10 out of 10 heifers incalf and 15 out of 17 cows incalf all to SexedULTRA 4M semen. “The conception rates are on a par with that expected from a conventional semen option,” said Alistair. In so doing it further cements the use of sexed semen as a core breeding tool within the dairy and beef sectors. Alistair is the first dairy farmer in Northern Ireland to use SexedULTRA 4M dairy and SexedULTRA 4M beef as a combined package on his dairy herd.

“I can use the 4M straws to secure the breeding of the dairy replacements I need from the minimal number of cow and heifers in the herd and also maximise the output from the beef option,” said Alistair.

“In turn, I can then use sexed male British Blue semen to optimise the beef output from the farm. Traditionally, all the male calves born on the farm have been brought through to finishing weights. However, I can finish a Blue bullock, which is worth an extra £500 in the sale ring, for exactly the same price as a Friesian.”

He concluded: “It makes perfect sense to use the new 4M straws across the entire herd along with Cogent Precision services.”

For further information on the Precision AI Service and SexedULTRA 4M dairy and beef semen please contact your local Cogent Breeding Advisor or Ashley Fleming on 07775561823.