Ian and Cath Ratcliffe milk an autumn calving herd of 360 cows on an intensive grazing system based in North Devon, in addition they rear an average of 100 replacement heifers each year. In this month’s blog the Ratcliffe’s explain how they have worked with HerdInsights partner Waikato on their HerdInsights installation, and how the system was developed to seamlessly integrate with the Waikato drafting gate….

“Managing the fertility to achieve a tight block is of huge importance, but takes a substantial amount of time and finding a solution that would enable them to concentrate on improving the performance of the heifers while not losing focus on the main herd was something that they recognised they would benefit from assistance with.

We use scratch cards on the main herd and until this year have served the heifers on a synch programme to simplify management. With the aim of using sexed semen on the heifers and putting more to beef in order to reduce dairy bulls and increase calf value, the Ratcliffe’s were keen to optimise conception rates to sexed by serving to natural heats.

After looking at a number of solutions they opted for the HerdInsights heat detection system through Waikato. With heifers often still out at grass in the autumn, they opted for a mobile gateway to pick the data up from the collars.

We have achieved fantastic results with HerdInsights picking up every heifer in heat. We can rely on the graph as a management tool as the constant data the system provides us on each heifer gives us a more precise analysis.  It offers labour saving on the heifers which is what the synch did for us, but also allows us to serve to natural heats for better rates with sexed semen. This means we can concentrate on the main herd and let the system sort out the heifers for us.

Down the road we may extend our use of the system, by introducing it to the main herd. Already we have used it as an aid on the tail end calvers later in the service period.  Conveniently it integrates with our Waikato drafting system so is an efficient and effective solution.

Overall the system has been well worth the investment it has brought efficiencies into the management of our breeding program, and has freed up time and labour to enable us to give more focus on other areas of the farm”.

The Herdinsights heat detection and health monitoring system can be developed to integrate with a wide range of drafting systems, bringing even further benefits and efficiencies to your breeding program.  To find out more about HerdInsights drafting gate integration contact us today:  https://herdinsights.com/contact/