South Wales farm halves disease rate with herd-monitoring technology

James Davies and his Herd Manager, Kevin, manage a 1200-cow herd in South Wales, installed the Ingenuity collar system in February 2023 and has dramatically improved the health of his herd since.  

Eager to better monitor his large herd’s health, James Davies from South Wales decided to install Ingenuity, Genus ABS herd-monitoring technology, early last year with the backing of his Genus ABS Representatives, Nick Thomas, Emyr James and Megan Kennett.  

Having already utilised Genus ABS genetics and services, including Reproduction Management Systems (RMS), he was more than confident to try the new herd-monitoring solution.  

Using Ingenuity allowed James and his team to be closer linked to both Genus ABS and Blade Farming which was important to him. He is now able to work closely with Reproductive Management Specialists who visit the farm, interpret data and information from the computer and artificially inseminate those who are identified on heat with a score high enough.  

By incorporating the herd monitoring technology solution, they were able to gain more consistency and removed the chances of human error from their processes.   

Kevin uses the Ingenuity system every single day, making it the first thing he checks in the morning for half an hour. He described the system as both brilliant and easy to use.  

Saving time and labour  

One of the key reasons for turning to the Ingenuity herd-monitoring system was to gain better data for intakes and rumination and to also save time and labour when it came to health checking every individual cow. Having 1200 cows and 15 members of staff, James and Kevin wanted to free up time and allow the staff to have time to concentrate on other  tasks.  

Prior to using Ingenuity, the team at the farm would run the cows through a race to temperature check them all individually which is something they no longer have to do, as Ingenuity does this for them and will alert them via the mobile app of any health alerts.   

Since installing the collars, Kevin has been able to stop milking every morning which he previously did. He said: “Milking every morning was the best way for me to know and see the each of the cows”. Each milking takes five and half hours which Kevin has now reduced to 30 minutes of his working day by checking the cows on the Ingenuity app. Now only milking on a Friday morning before the foot trimmer visits, he has saved himself over 30 working hours a week to focus on other demands of the farm.  

Kevin explained: “Before, I was spending a lot of quality time with cows that didn’t need time spending. Now I’ve got time to concentrate on the cows that really stand out to me and flag it on the system. So, with the time I’m saving in the parlour, I’m spending that with the cows that really need my attention.”  

Improving animal health and fertility  

The previous health strategy at James’s farm was reactive, if they spotted a physical symptom, they would treat it, however with Ingenuity they can now be proactive and more efficient. Now, they treat those who are flagged up on the computer system and agree that those who have not had health alerts do not require attention.  

James added: “Previously, we were checking 35 to 40 cows every day, whereas now, we might do it to 5 cows. With rumination, we don’t just check the fresh cows, we just click on rumination on the software and that has been brilliant.”  

Due to using Ingenuity and changing the management of specific dry cows, they have been able to decrease the number of ‘problem cows’ in their herd. James explained: “Of the dry cows, we noticed that during last summer we seemed to be hitting lower intakes every few weeks, it allowed us to change our management of the dry cow pen, which meant we were having a lot less problem cows & fewer alerts for drops in intakes.   

“Although reduced, we still get problem dry cows. Where the intake is inconsistent, we see a drop, we see an alert, all of those cows will potentially be a problem fresh cow, so using the intake report as a proactive way of finding those cows, drenching those cows, they are more likely to get through post calving without too much of a problem.”  

With the last spike of Metritis taking place in June last year, they now see almost no cases with milk fever also dropping to below 0.9%. Disease levels at the farm have more than halved since August 2023 which is a dramatic improvement. Now they are able to detect diseases, such as metritis, early, they have been able to substantially reduce the amount of antibiotics used on the farm.  

James commented: “Our disease level and antibiotic use has been good, for the last 18 months we have used a lot less than the national average of antibiotics, but we still thought we could be better and wanted to improve.”  

Since the huge improvement in health started, they have also found that disease was directly correlating with pregnancy rates and fertility. The pregnancy rate at the farm was 27% before implementing Ingenuity and has climbed to 34%, an increase of 7% in just over a year.  

In March of last year, they had 103 calvings and 18 transition events. 12 months later in 2024, this has improved significantly to 128 calvings and just one transition event.  

 “Ingenuity has shown us how accurate it is for health and welfare, but it’s also helped to improve the fertility. You can have the best system in the world but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how to drive it.   

 “It’s been a combination of a very accurate system, using all the new technology, having the ongoing support & training from Genus ABS’ Ingenuity hypercare and the local team. 

 “Ingenuity has allowed us to find those at-risk cows sooner, which has led to less clinical cases of disease, reducing our antibiotic use, it’s also having a knock-on effect of less cows leaving the farm by 30 DIM. I can now be more efficient with my time, allowing me to be able to be more proactive with the herd.” 

Looking to improve your herd’s performance? Invest in Ingenuity today. Visit our website to learn more, or contact your local Genus ABS representative.

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