Herd Navigator first for Greys

Marcus Grey with some of the DeLaval VMS milking robots which are improving efficiency on his farm at Killadeas
Marcus Grey with some of the DeLaval VMS milking robots which are improving efficiency on his farm at Killadeas

Fermanagh farmer Marcus Grey has achieved another first, this time becoming the first farmer on the island of Ireland to install a DeLaval Herd Navigator.

The Greys keep a 210 cow pedigree Jersey herd and run the acclaimed Tickety-Moo Ice Cream business on their farm in Oghill, Killadeas, Co Fermanagh.

Marcus Grey with the Herd Navigator equipment installed on his 210 cow pedigree Jersey herd farm

Marcus Grey with the Herd Navigator equipment installed on his 210 cow pedigree Jersey herd farm

“Herd Navigator is the tool of the future for farmers,” said Marcus.

“We have invested in DeLaval robotic milking which has greatly reduced the time it takes to milk our herd, now we have a tool which can store all the valuable data we require about each individual cow. This brings control and management of our stock to a whole new level and we are extremely impressed by what it can do.”

Herd Navigator is designed to provide producers with an enhanced overview of their entire herd whilst offering specific valuable information on individual cows. It will allow milk producers here to identify significantly more cows in heat than can be seen with current heat detection aids – such as activity meters – or visual checks to spot mastitis before it affects the milk. Milk producers will also be made aware of cows affected by different metabolic disorders before actual symptoms are visible to the naked eye.

“Herd Navigator is a significant innovation in herd management as the system automatically measures different components in the milk while the cow is being milked. This is undoubtedly the management tool of the future, it takes so much pressure off the farmer and delivers accurate results which will increase the financial yield from each cow by around €267 per cow per year,” said Kieran FitzGerald, VMS Solutions Manager, GB and Ireland.

The Grey family pictured on their farm at Killadeas which is home to the first Herd Navigator" on the island

The Grey family pictured on their farm at Killadeas which is home to the first Herd Navigator" on the island

Early warnings alert the milk producer to the appropriate quick action needed for individual cows, for reproduction, udder health and nutrition. Proactive action will also improve animal welfare and food safety.

Herd Navigator focus areas include reproduction, udder health and feeding. Using sophisticated bio-modelling, analytical results are presented on the farmer’s computer in a clear form that makes it easy to spot animals which need special attention including:

o Cows in heat, pregnant cows and cows with reproduction disorders or abortions

o Cows that are developing mastitis, days before clinical signs can be seen

o Early detection of ketosis cases or imbalance in feed ration

The new system will give the milk producer a better overview of the whole herd while providing valuable information on individual cows.

Herd Navigator is a multi-award winner including Agrarfuchs Innovation in Agriculture Award at Agraria Austria 2010, nel d’Or for milking equipment at La France Agricole 2010 and rated as three star Europe news at Agromek 2008 in January in Messecenter Herning. The Herd Navigator concept has been developed in close co-operation between FOSS and DeLaval International AB and DeLaval UK and Ireland will be working in co-operation with Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy (EBVC).

In July 2015, DeLaval was awarded the RABDF Prince Philip Award for research and development in the field of dairy farming and the most practical, relevant and best technical exhibit at the Livestock Event 2015 for the ‘Herd Navigator’.