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EBBE - Managing Cows and Heat Detection

14 October 2014

EBBE - European Board Of Bovine Experts

As well as an appropriate heat detection system, housing, feed intake and stress all play a part in cow fertility, according to the European Board of Bovine Experts.

Daily feed intake

The feed intake is an important precondition for a successful fertility concept. It ensures the supply of energy and nutrients during the period of negative energy balance.

The forage quality is influencing a lot the daily feed intake of dairy cows. The forage quality has to be controlled and monitored regularly.

Most important is to guarantee the free access to feed every time. A feeding protocol is necessary and gives a lot of information of the composition of the diet and the feeding times.

Give cows enough time

The time management is important. Dairy cows should wait in the yard before the milking parlour as less time as possible. Reasons: Stress in a narrow environment and time out for feed intake. Milking time should be less than 1 hour.

Rest time in the box is important to ruminate, digest, and utilize energy and nutrients much more efficiently.

Dairy cows needs a consistent daily routine to create an atmosphere for a relaxed and stress free environment – regular milking times, feeding times, treatments.

Housing conditions

Good preconditions for high performance, fertility: Enough beds/ boxes for cows; No slippery floors; enough space in the barn, decrease heat stress.

Heat detection

1) Training

The personnel, who take care of the diary cows, have to be trained to identify the heat.

2) Use data

Data of a pedometer (investment about 200 €/ cow) and milking parameters should be used as an indicator for heat. Use more available data, which are available in the milking parlour or via transponder. Ask the veterinarian for help to understand the complex data.

3) Housing conditions

Cows should be able to show their heat behaviour – no slippery floors, enough space for a higher cow activity.

4) Health

Identify and try to avoid health problems as ketosis, lameness, metritis, acidosis…
Health problems are lowering the activity and therefore the typical behaviour during heat.

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