Innovation and safeguarding dairy businesses forms focus at MoleCare Vet conference

Using technologies and fine tuning management to better place dairy businesses to face continued low milk price formed the focus of discussions at the inaugural MoleCare Vet Conference in Exeter.

MoleCare Veterinary Services used the conference at Westpoint Arena to launch their innovative new smaXtec Service. The unique system uses rumen boluses to automatically monitor oestrus, feed management and health parameters, with information delivered instantly to a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Under the theme of “Make Milk Matter,” the one day conference on 20 April looked to provide farmers with practical solutions to help boost efficiencies and future proof their businesses.

Dairy market analyst and journalist Chris Walkland highlighted the huge challenges facing the dairy industry thanks to the turbulent milk price environment and said this underlined the need to understand cost of production.

“The experts can’t see anything on the horizon this year to significantly increase prices…I predict non aligned contracts will be at 18-19ppl and A/B contracts at 16-17ppl for the next six months. My gut feel is that price will average around 24-25ppl over the next five years, so if you can’t produce milk consistently at 25ppl, you need to a) consider your future in the industry or b) learn,” he said.

Mr Walkland spoke of the “tsunami of milk” that was causing global oversupply. This, coupled with the sharp decline in demand due to Russia closing its doors and China spending around €3billion less on dairy products, was a key driver to depressed milk returns. He also highlighted the huge disparity between aligned and non aligned contracts and the need to increase the marketing of dairy products.

Although these market prices may be largely outside of producer’s control, conference speakers detailed ways in which farmers could tweak their systems to better insulate their businesses. This included talks on understanding CowSignals and the role of cross breeding in helping extend longevity and hence profitability.

Sina Stein, product manager for Austrian company smaXtec Animal Care also explained how new bolus technology provided farmers with the tools to better understand cow health and tweak management accordingly.

MoleTech Services – the technical arm of MoleCare Farm Vets – has joined forces with smaXtec Animal Care as the new sole UK distributor of smaXtec sensors.

There are two boluses available, which can be used on their own or together to record multiple parameters. Both sit in the reticulo-ruminal compartment of the forestomach. One has a four year life and measures temperature and motion activity at ten minute intervals. This allows detection of oestrus behaviour, the onset of calving as well as early detection of diseases such as ketosis. The second tracks temperature and motion activity, as well as pH which can be used to assess nutrition. A climate sensor is also available to monitor building humidity.

The sensors send out data which is picked up by a base station. When parameters fall outside of desirable ranges, a push notification or email can automatically be sent to a smart phone or tablet. As part of the smaXtec service, this information will then be collated into a report that can be used to make informed management decisions, said MoleCare technician Victor Ogedegbe.

“For the first time, farmer, vet and nutritionist can sit down together and put steps in place to improve efficiencies. We believe if we get health and fertility right and integrate with nutrition and the environment where cows live, we can work with farmers to improve productivity through improved animal welfare,” he said.

The service is available to all vets and nutritionists in the UK and Ireland and is priced from £2/cow/month, including support.

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