This is branded content for Nedap Livestock Management.
It's a common morning routine for many - checking the mobile phone for the latest emails and news.
Dairy farmers prefer to check something else first - the heat and health status of their cows, by working with Nedap CowControl.
In the morning and afternoon, before milking starts, Brian Mooney checks his phone to see which cows are in heat and ready for insemination.
Mr Mooney runs a spring pasture-based dairy farm with 220 cows on 100 hectares in Kill, County Waterford, Ireland.
The cows are connected to the Nedap CowControl system, a cow monitoring system that continuously tracks cow behaviour and notifies him of heat and health issues on the herd.
Mr Mooney's farm has been growing over the years, just like many dairy operations all over the world, but an extra staff member is not always an option to manage and monitor the cows.
The use of cow sensor technology can ease the workload for seasonal calving and grass-based systems like Mr Mooney's to guarantee that the cows are closely monitored around the clock for heat, health and grazing time.
"Having a cow monitoring system in place is just like having another person watching your cows," he said.
Data available at all times
Evan Williams runs a 300-cow family dairy farm in Yannathan, Victoria with his wife Sheriden, their daughter Georgie and her husband Graeme Lowndes.
They use GEA's CowScout monitoring system, which is part of the GEA robotic milking system and powered by Nedap.
Nedap partners with a range of leading companies in milking equipment and genetics who integrate their identification and animal monitoring solutions in the products and services they offer to farmers.
"With this technology, the cows wear CowScout tags that track their heat activity, eating, rumination and inactive behaviour," Mr Williams said.
"It's on our phones and on our computers. So it just made our farm get a lot closer to us and we can keep track of the health of our cows."
100 per cent trust in the system
With the introduction of the automated system, the daily working routine changed on the farm.
"Basically we used to check the cows as they would come on the milking platform," Mr Lowndes said.
"If we saw cows that would normally come on first and then were down towards the back of the yard, we would know that there's something wrong with them."
Mr Lowndes now starts his day by checking the computer to see if there are any cows in the health report.
The system registers the behavior of the cows, presents clear attention lists and sends out notifications directly via emails or through the app in urgent situations.
"Checking that data takes us only a couple of minutes. It allows us more time with the kids or with the family."
Improving farm efficiency
For farms that synchronise cows, it is extremely important to be able to rely on accurate heat detection.
For Australian dairy farmer Scott McKillop from Dederang, Victoria, the use of his Alta Cow Watch system, which is also powered by Nedap, is the key to better reproduction results and higher work efficiency. "When you are using a synchronisation program, you have so many cows on heat at the same time," Mr McKillop said.
Mr McKillop has a dairy farm with 370 cows, with 300 calving from March to May and the remainder in August and September, and Alta Cow Watch gives him more data to make informed decisions on optimal timing for insemination.
"This system gives us a lot more insight into the heat of cows and their health, saving a lot of time," he said.
"With this system you clearly get the optimal time to inseminate.
"So that just simplified the whole system significantly and really made a big difference to our time management and use of our labour on our farm."
Mr McKillop also uses the insights into the eating, rumination and activity pattern.
"If you see a decrease in feed intake or an increase in inactivity, this could indicate an infection or illness in the cow or an incentive to change the ration.
"Discovering the reasons why you should or should not do something is a really strong part of this system."
A system that pays for itself
Mr McKillop estimated the payback time of the Alta Cow Watch system, powered by Nedap CowControl, at approximately three years.
Using Cow Watch, he has managed to organise labour at his single-person operation in a smarter way, while getting more cows in calf.
"It's difficult to put a value on the health of the animals, but I would say the payback time is comfortably within three years," he said.
"We can't imagine not having the system right now. It's part of our everyday management on the farm."
Nedap technology can be designed to fit to each type of farm and the farmer's demands, and can be integrated in other equipment or sold as a stand-alone system.
This is sponsored content for Nedap Livestock Management.