1,100/month use COW service from Herdplus
More than 1,100 herdowners used ICBF’S COW (Cow’s Own Worth) service in September, the latest month for which statistics are available. According to ICBF, there has been “vast uptake in use”, and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation’s Herdplus team was celebrating again in October, when their COW was awarded the silver award in the science category of the National Dairy Innovation Awards at the National Dairy Show in Millstreet.
Less than a year ago, COW was added to the suite of services delivered through Herdplus. The 20,000 individual online hits since then show just how much dairy farmers, including people from the breeding industry, value COW. It can rank dairy cows within the herd on their expected profit performance for the remainder of their lifetime, by collating readily available data in the ICBF database. Therefore, COW aids in making more profitable management decisions, by easily identifying underperforming cows within the herd.
As a result, farmers can make better informed daily management decisions on culling and retention of animals.
COW has been particularly helpful in the cow culling decisions necessary after the challenges this year of fodder shortages and drought conditions. Many visitors to the Herdplus stand at the National Dairy Show had used COW during and after the drought crisis.
COW includes a display of valid reasonings as to why certain candidates would be considered for culling. For example, cows now ranked at the bottom of the list are usually cows with late expected calving dates for 2019, or which had SCC issues from the past and/or on-going SCC issues, or cows with low milk solids, etc.
One of the key factors to ensure the user gets the best from a COW profile is to keep records up-to-date.
Milk recording information is automatically retrieved from the ICBF database, so no action is required by the farmer, however, the onus is on the farmer to keep fertility and health records as relevant as possible when planning on identifying cows to cull. For example, the last AI serve on a cow will be used in COW to predict her next calving date and rank her against her herd mates accordingly.
A subsequent pregnancy diagnosis might verify the last serve date or invalidate it, in which case the COW profile would re-rank this cow, based on the new information provided. COW is instantaneous, and re-ranks the herd “live”. Therefore, the farmer has a more accurate picture of cows’ expected profitability.
Erin Kennedy and Dan O’riordan, Herdplus.