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TDK conference 2019

Prediction of calving using different systems in dairy cows
Madar Márta - year 5
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Reproduction
Supervisors: Dr. András Horváth, Dr. Lea Lénárt


During the study we used three different systems for calving prediction. Ruminact (SCR Engineers Ltd., Netanya, Israel) is a collar that measures the rumination times of animals in two-hour intervals via a microphone. Medria Vel’Phone (Medria, Chateaubourg, France) is an intravaginal thermometer that detects the change in temperature when falling out at calving and sends an alarm. Moocall (Moocall Ltd., Dublin, Ireland) is a sensor that can be placed on the cow’s tail that measures the activity of the animals by the movements of the tail, and sends an alarm when it detects an increase associated with the calving.

Fifty-six clinically healthy, pregnant Holstein-Frisian cows from Ráckeresztúr (Prograg Agrárcentrum Kft.) were used in our experiment. The animals (19 heifers, 37 cows) were enrolled approximately one week before the expected calving. When the calving started, we noted the time of each alarm, monitored the progression, outcome and time of the end of the calving. The data were subsequently analyzed. Rumination times were recorded in 52 animals. Ruminact showed the decrease in rumination times approximately 4 hours before calving, and it stayed at a low rate until 4 hours after calving (with the lowest rumination time with a mean value of 11 min/2 hours at the time of calving). This was significantly lower than 6 hours prepartum (P<0.05). Vel’Phone, due to its relatively more invasive nature, was used on 21 cows. The text message alert was sent on an average 1 hour 41 minutes before the calf was born, ranging from 3 hours 28 minutes to 31 minutes. After each message there was a calf born. Moocall was used on all 56 animals. We received 675 messages in total, and out of these, 85 alerted us to actual calvings, preceding the birth of a calf by less than 4 hours (positive predictive value: 12.6%). In two cases, we didn’t receive an alarm even though a calving was underway (sensitivity: 97.7%). The alerts correctly predicting the calving arrived on an average 2 hours and 5 minutes before the calf was born, which didn’t differ significantly from the timing of the Vel’Phone messages (P>0.05). The false positive alerts were more frequent in heifers than in cows (P<0.05).

We can conclude that both Ruminact and Vel’Phone can be used successfully to predict calvings, though Vel’Phone, since it must be inserted into the vagina, may cause some level of discomfort for the animals and it also may increase the risk of infection. Moocall, in our current experiment, could predict calvings correctly in only a small percentage. The reason behind this might be that it originally wasn’t designed for large farms, which means that the frequent social interactions between animals coupled with daily occurrences of events causing an increased activity in the animals (feeding, changing groups) may have influenced the system’s function.

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