Farmers look to automated Body Condition Scoring to manage looming feed deficits


3 December 2017 - Managing supplements is a priority for farmers around the country as they prepare cows for dry off over the traditional feed deficit period in January to March.

Good maintenance of body reserves is essential as herds head into Autumn, said Ron Mulder, DeLaval’s Farm Systems Manager for Oceania.

“For many of our farmers, managing expensive supplements is front of mind as grazing starts to reduce,” he said.

He says automated Body Condition Scoring can play a significant role in getting feed management right, without under or overfeeding.

“I’d equate BCS scoring to a $100 an hour job. It’s worth a lot to the business, it needs to be done, but it can be hard and quite subjective if you’re doing it manually. Often your eye is different to my eye,” he explained.

He said DeLaval’s automated BCS technology, a world first, allows a gate-mounted camera to capture and process BCS data for highly accurate scoring with zero farmer input.

“We use a 3-D camera on a gate that takes multiple shots and selects the best image for input into a breed-specific algorithm. Farmers can then use DelPro Herd Manager to make decisions about individual cows, groups, or the herd as a whole,” he explained.

The automated system allows for consistent and daily scoring that supports farm decisions through all four stages of lactation.

“Studies have shown that monitoring BCS consistently can reduce ketosis on farms by 50%, increase milk yield, and improve in-calf rates significantly,” he said. 

“At this time of year when feed deficits are looming, automated scoring really allows you to look after vulnerable cows - to identify them, treat them, and get the condition back on them.”

More information about the automatic DeLaval Body Condition Scoring Camera can be found here.

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