The farmBolus trials are continuing to develop well, delivering some interesting results from all 10 participating farms. In recent weeks the weather has been particularly variable which has partly led to a variety of results across all the farms in South West England. Results have been taken from a broad selection of dairy cows, with different methods of milking and feeding being used on the farms.
As well as measuring the ruminal pH levels of the cow, the farmBolus can show the number of drinks that a cow fitted with the device is taking, and as a result the heat stress a cow is under can be monitored through analysis of the temperature measurements. This has been evident with the very hot weather that we have had lately. The results for one particular cow from Farm B are shown below. This shows that the number of drinks per day – shown by the drops in temperature – increase dramatically.
Benefits to the farmer
The benefits to the farmer are clear. Looking at Farm B as an example, the boluses were inserted on the 1st May and on the 17th May when feed was changed the cost of feed per head per day could be decreased by 15 pence per cow per day. A month later when feed was changed again, the cost of feed per head per day had been reduced yet again, by 60 pence this time. This took the total saving for the farm over this period to £7927.50, with no reduction in milk yield, proving how real and quick the economic improvement to farms using the farmBolus can be.
The response from nutritionists and veterinarians to the data has been enthusiastic. Trials have shown possible benefits of using the farmBolus to manage herds to include increases in milk yield and content, improvements in pasture management and staff work and the ability to identify risks of SARA and to monitor feed intake. It means that previous assumptions can be tested in order to maximise the health, productivity and resulting profit through feed management of dairy cows.