FitBits for Cows??

FitBits for Cows??

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FitBit FitBit

May 18, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFDTV) - Dairymen have used activity monitoring systems for decades to help them tell when cows go into heat, but the new versions have many more applications.

Using the same technology as smart phones and FitBits, farmers can monitor things like feeding time and rumen function.  Lancaster Farming reports               the monitors (whether in ear tags, collars, or ankle bracelets) can help detect sick cows faster. One system can even reduce the interval between calvings and reduce the age of a heifer at her first calving.

Read the complete story from Lancaster Farming.

Prices for the systems vary, and experts caution that the system itself requires management in order to get the best return on investment.

There's a similar tool on the market to help ranchers and dairy farmers. Management Minder, a digital tool for cattle producers from Kansas State and Iowa State Extension.

Sandy Johnson, Kansas State University Extension livestock specialist, said, “We know that a cow has standard gestation length of 283 days on average and we have 365 days in the year and so those facts set up different things for us and what we often need are little reminders to make sure we do things timely for that cow. This tool based on what you determine to be your calving or breeding day, however you want to look at it, will allow you then to plan the things that that cow needs as well as her calf throughout the year.”

This application can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.  Producers can add events--such as when to vaccinate--into the database.

“Once you have put those in," Johnson explains, "And you save them on this database then what will happen is next year you can just move it forward a year, but then you also push the send calendar button and it sends to your email address a file that Outlook, Google or Yahoo calendar systems can read so you put that into your calendar system and it populates your device with those particular items. You can set it up to ring or remind you however you want that reminder to be to keep you timely in your activities.”

Getting the details right and on time can help improve beef quality.

Once more, Johnson elaborates, “As we look at all our management steps we know that there are small changes during gestation can impact essentially the quality of that offspring in a variety of ways so that managing nutrition during gestation is very important to future offspring and then as we look at trying to grow and develop those calves, we also have essentially the weaning portion of it so we are getting our preconditioning shots in there and you have flexibility in how you set that up, but is essentially designed to remind you to do that and hopefully minimize the stress of those calves around weaning time and allow them to continue in and produce good beef.”

You can find the tool here: cowweb.exnet.iastate.edu/CowWeb/faces.

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