Friday, 03 March 2017 08:55

Technology picks out ‘passengers’ in herds

Written by 
Waikato farmer Graham Cates. Waikato farmer Graham Cates.

Dairy farmers with herringbone sheds can now make use of a new LIC Automation YieldSense app to help them determine during milking which cows are producing the best or the worst on any given day.

YieldSense is an automated in-line milk sensor that shows yield and milksolid results.

The YieldSense Connected app is itself not new, but it now has new functionality giving it “wider farmer appeal,” the company says. It formerly suited only farmers with automated rotary dairy sheds.

Farmers equipped with YieldSense in-line sensors can use the YieldSense Connected app to immediately identify the ‘passengers’ (low value/production cows) in their herds, and to identify high-producing (high value) cows.

The app captures information from the milk sensors, alerting the farmer to the results via their smart device. Results include a summary of the bottom- and top-performing individual cows in the herd.

Graham Cates, manager of a 300-cow herd in Walton, near Matamata, uses YieldSense Connected to record the yield for each cow in his herd; he taps into the technology for a 10-day period each month. 

“We record the alerts when they appear. Whenever we’re alerted, we go to the bail, get the cow number and punch it into the phone,” Cates says.

The information backs up animal management decisions. “It makes our job easier, its user friendly and fast, and now we don’t herd test. We make our decisions about what we’re going to do: treat, dry off, or cull.”

The app goes beyond individual cow results, LIC says. Herd-level reporting helps farmers in herd improvement. 

A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra. The lights provide milking staff with an extra visual alert – signalling the bottom- and top-performing cows before they return to the paddock.

Paul Whiston, LIC Automation chief executive, says the app is affordable for most farmers, particularly those with small to mid-size herds. 

“Until now YieldSense has been for farmers with rotary milking sheds with an in-bail cow identification system. The YieldSense Connected app opens the technology up to the entire market, including farmers with herringbones. 

“YieldSense Connected, and the previously released CellSense Connected (released November last year) offer farmers more choice and flexibility with the latest automation solutions.”

Making sense of YieldSense

Farmer selects the threshold for alerts based on a percentage of the herd

YieldSense detects the yield and milk solid levels in the milk

Alerts from the sensors are sent to the farmer’s smart device and flashing light system (optional extra)

Farmer links the alert to the cow number

YieldSense Connected provides farmers with instant, real-time, reporting on cows and herd and allows for better decision making at the right time. 

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