I am here in the lovely city of Copenhagen for two meetings.
The DairyCare meeting is the first of a new EU COST action bringing researchers together for regular updates on their work from around Europe. There was a lot of discussion on the use of sensors to monitor welfare parameters such as lameness.
The EAAP2014 meeting is the 65th in the series and finally we are beginning to get precision livestock farming regularly onto the agenda. My slides for my talk are here 10 Mottram EAAP. I am presenting a series of case notes from the trials we ran last year with Three Counties Feeds and Mole Valley. Results on farm are far more complex than we see in research and a great deal of expert interpretation is needed to use the bolus data to improve work routines, feed offered. Time only permits me to talk about 6 cases each of which very clearly shows the benefits of monitoring the rumen pH.
The farms were selected to represent a range of farm types from continuous grazing, through mixed grazing and concentrate feeding in a robotic milker to TMR fed continuous housed cows milked three times a day. The data were collected by a nutritionist visiting the farm regularly with a handset to download data, analysing feed and talking to the farmer about events that affected rumen pH. The pH data were recorded in the reticulum which has a pH level approximately 0.25 pH units above that in the ventral sac from which rumenocentesis was conducted. Fewer than 5% of recordings were below 5.75 indicating that SARA was not common in this sample of cows. The variety of responses to the rumen data will be presented as narrative case studies, they include one farmer saving 70 p per cow per day by removing a minor food ingredient from the diet that raised mean rumen pH and increasing the amount of night time feeding without affecting milk yield. In a grazing situation one farmer changed his fence moving routine which optimised rumen pH and raised milk yields. Several farms detected irregularities in rumen pH probably caused by changes in feed offered to the cows by different staff. Optimal pH values in different feeding systems will be discussed but the most important parameters to create pH targets for dairy farmers appear to be the daily range of pH, the mean daily pH, the number of feeds per day and detection of management changes.