It’s time for us to bring you another blog post from the VirtualVet team in Ireland. This month Caitriona covers the importance of using decision support systems, such as the eCow bolus, to promote animal health and best practice on farms: 


Much has been written about decision support in farming. Typically, decision support suggests information technology resources designed to help farmers make informed decisions when it comes to best practice on their farm. Information can be gathered from different sources allowing analysis that can influence production meaning your decision can be supported by the presented information. Benefits can include more efficient use of labour and other resources, reduced costs, and increased yields.

Farmers need to make countless decisions daily, and the impacts of these decisions may not always be immediately visible in production. Deciding what to feed an animal, balancing quality with cost, and how much to feed them are all important choices to be made. Sometimes it can be difficult to know if you’ve made the right choice. So, monitoring with the use of technology can help you review current practice.

The eCow bolus uses technology to extract data from ruminants, and the bolus readings provides the user with valuable analytics to address their animals’ health. The eCow bolus provides data by continually, and accurately, measuring the pH and temperature in the reticulum. There are many benefits of having these data; monitoring can help identify anomalies in the feeding cycle by providing information about the reticulum pH, and comparing this to the type of food, and the time it ate. This can then guide better decision making regarding diet and the timing of feeding.

Sometimes indirect issues can contribute negatively to farm management as they are difficult to identify and not obvious. For example, on larger farms where there is a team working a shift pattern perhaps, the feeding of animals can be difficult to monitor; control and costs can be incurred through over or under feeding. Information gathered by the eCow bolus showing the times the animal feeds can help highlight such irregularities and show the team the importance of their work to the welfare of the cow and the productivity of the farm.

Talk to eCow today about how our bolus can shed light on your herd welfare and support some decisions you may need to make.