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1st June, 2020

Heat detection systems involving activity monitoring can be unreliable

On a farm call outside Newry where a dairy farmer presented cows for SmartScan evaluation of reproductive performance.

SmartScan revealed the following;

  1. Cows which had been inseminated while pregnant
  2. Cows inseminated at a time other than been in heat
  3. Cows been inseminated when they were not cycling or unfit for insemination

This farm was using a heat detection system involving activity monitoring with in-built accelerometers. This system is a useful aid to health monitoring and heat detection. However, it throws up both false positives and false negatives data leading to both heats and health monitoring. On this farm, managerial actions on the farm caused an array of false positives in terms of linking increased activity to heats which were false.

The two activities in question were hoof pairing of cows on the farm as part of annual routine pairing operations. Also, the movement of herd outdoors while slurry was moved from underground tanks to outside slurry storage area.