One in every three cows develops ketosis, also known as acetonaemia, a disorder caused by a negative energy balance immediately after calving. A 2015 study published in the reputable Journal of Dairy Science found that ketosis costs an annual €253 ($282) per affected cow.

Prompt identification
Nedap’s CowControl™ sensor technology helps to identify early symptoms before the farmer is aware of anything, allowing for prompt intervention. On dairy farms, 80% of health issues occur during the transition period, and it is precisely when the cows are dry that it is hardest for livestock farmers to assess their health status.

The smart tag around the cow’s neck continuously measures three factors that are crucial for the detection of ketosis: the eating time, the rumination time, and the inactive time during which the cow is neither eating nor ruminating. These separate, continuous measurements of behaviour duration are unique. Their importance is based on the fact that cows suffering from ketosis after calving have been shown to feed and ruminate for 20 minutes less per day during the non-lactation period. On average, these animals spend 40 minutes a day less on chewing, and are inactive for longer periods. Although the farmer will not be aware of this in everyday practice, such behaviour will be registered by Nedap’s CowControl™. This early warning system allows for timely intervention, making it possible to prevent problems.

Many livestock owners underestimate the economic consequences of ketosis. In addition to direct costs, such as veterinarian  care, medication and the possible loss of the cow, there are many indirect costs related to factors such as additional labour and loss of income resulting from reduced milk yield, a decline in reproduction, and higher culling risk.

Annual savings of €2,530
An average ketosis rate of 30% results in annual costs amounting to €15,180 ($16,952) for a 200-strong herd of cattle. A reduction in the rate of ketosis from 30% to 25% due to timely intervention in response to early detection by Nedap’s CowControl™ results in cost savings of €2,530 ($2,825) per year.

Where do I start?

“If considering the purchase of an activity monitoring system, start your search with your milking equipment or A.I. supplier,” says Stephanie Aves, business development manager for Nedap North America. “Many milking equipment and A.I. companies carry activity monitoring systems that connect seamlessly with individual parlor and herd monitoring systems.”

Find your Nedap CowControl distributor

“Health monitoring based on facts rather than gut feeling”

“We were really just guessing. But now that we’re using Nedap technology for health monitoring, we’re able to follow our cows far more accurately and make individual adjustments: only those cows that really need it are treated with propylene glycol. Our response is now based on facts rather than gut feeling”, explains Marcel Rijkers, managing director of the Koepon dairy farm in Feerwerd, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Together with herd manager Alex Borst and other staff, he manages a herd of 400 cows. Heat detection and health monitoring were introduced in 2016. According to Alex, the health monitoring system is particularly valuable during the transition period. It makes it easier to check cows that calved during the previous week. “Any cow that isn’t feeding properly will be flagged by the system. A cow is only allowed to return to the herd when she is feeding and ruminating appropriately.” This reduces the number of cows with a negative energy balance. According to Marcel, they will recoup the cost of the health monitoring system in two to three years. But, more importantly: “Health monitoring raises the overall health level of the animals, thereby improving production.”