May 20, 2024
NEWS & Blog

Halter Implementation Ashgrove – 3. Second fortnight

So far it was looking really exciting. Daily shifts on hill country using an app on your phone! No putting up electric fences, with cows shifting within 1 hour into the new break and calves creep grazing ahead of mum! This was too good to be true!!

After the first week we had used up most of the saved pasture on the flats so it was time to test the collars on some hills. We pushed 72 mixed age cows plus calves into a hill paddock of 10 ha’s. There was the odd cow wandering out of her zone for a few minutes, but the collars were gently guiding them back into the break.

So far it was looking really exciting. Daily shifts on hill country using an app on your phone! No putting up electric fences, with cows shifting within 1 hour into the new break and calves creep grazing ahead of mum! This was too good to be true!!

After two weeks things looking really good still. No collars had come off and everything was working fine. However, we still hadn’t tested the collars on the really steep hills so that was still a question mark in my mind. Fingers crossed, but the bugs and issues I was mentally preparing myself for weren’t surfacing.

The Halter team were still on farm doing lots of observations of the cows and how they were responding to the collars. Being the first serious foray into hill country beef, Halter had dedicated a lot of resource to being on our farm and learning as much as possible from this pilot. They were doing a phenomenal number of software updates to the collars as they were tweaking the settings. It’s so impressive working with a tech startup company seeing how quickly they turn things around. The energy from the team at Halter was infectious.

Mating was looming so that was another variable we were keen to see in action. The neck size of the breeding bulls means they remain uncollared. Our theory was that having the cows in a small, confined area of 1 to 2 ha’s with daily shifts will enable the bull to get around the cows easily. Previously that same bull would have a 10 to 20 ha paddock to cover a mob of cows. Because we are a stud Angus herd we single sire mate and also do some artificial insemination.

We had to get the 72 mixed age cows in for doing artificial insemination so they came into the yards conventionally with a team of dogs. There were only 42 cows we needed to inseminate of the 72 so normally we carry out a lengthy process of drafting them out by looking at freeze brands and ear tags. But Travis the Farm Manager came up with the smart idea of turning on a different coloured light on the collars of the 42 cows we needed to inject with progesterone. The collars have LED lights on them which can be changed to four different colours using a setting on your phone. Prior to yarding Travis ticked all the cows he wanted for the AI programme and made their collars flash red. So, we ran all 72 cows up the race and just injected the ones with a red light flashing on their collar.

They ran through the yards much faster with no drafting involved. The team repeated the same process a few days later for putting in the CIDRS, then again with the insemination.

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