Smart Farm Data
An option for targeted monitoring of animal health.
The SmaXtec system was developed in Austria and offers the potential to closely monitor individual cows or whole herd feed systems by the use of a bolus inserted into the cow (via the throat) and designed to operate in the rumen. A New Zealand company is helping farmers to access and use that data to maximise the effectiveness of responses to the information gathered by the bolus.
Once the bolus is in the cow, data is transmitted wirelessly to the base data stations installed on the farm. The data that can be gathered is temperature, activity and rumen pH. The farmer uses a phone app to receive alerts as required and data is updated every 10 minutes.
The standard bolus offers farmers early heat detection indication via activity levels and temperature measurement. All reproduction activity is monitored so farmers are able to view cows that haven’t cycled. The potential benefits are higher submission and conception rates, as well as less stressed staff.
Farmers can also monitor animal health with the opportunity to catch sick and lame cows early which results in improved successes in treatment, longevity and animal well-being. Additionally, there is a bolus that measures pH and that information can be used to improve feed optimisation and any fermentation disorders in the rumen.
The SmaXtec system sends an alert to a phone if cow body temperature declines, as this can be an indicator of the onset of calving. Animals that have been alerted for calving can be monitored and checked that they are in the colostrum mob. Smart Farm Data say there is a high percentage of cows that are not detected as having calved in large herds. These animals are often sold out of the herd as empties with a consequent loss of return to the farmer.
There are many more benefits from the three data avenues that are collected every 10 minutes 24 hours a day, such as feed efficiency alerts, low water intake or heat stress alerts. Temperature monitoring offers early detection of heat stress, as well as how often the animal is drinking.
It is recommended that the pH sensors are used to monitor animals through feed transition periods, such as putting cows on to fodder beet. For farmers that are feeding fodder beet, they can place a sample group of cows within the herd with pH sensors. These animals will be the feed indicators for the herd and the rumen pH data will send an alert if the animals experience a sharp drop in pH giving the farmer early warnings of SARA. The pH measurement offered by the bolus is only guaranteed as accurate for 150 days. It is designed to be used during the period of feeding when acidosis is a high-risk factor.
As part of the SmaXtec service, users receive a herd specific management report via Smart Farm Data. This analyses the data patterns and can be used as a discussion point for management decisions.
SmaXtec have recently changed their pricing model so the initial cost for the smaXtec Smart Sensor is now $89 with a monthly data interpretation fee of $2.49 per cow. On top of the sensor cost is the cost for uploading data technology and installation.