‘Expert Eye’ Heat Detection Device Delivers Mighty Payback
Gallagher has unveiled a clever little heat detection product that offers farmers a huge return on investment.
The Flashmate® Electronic Heat Detector, a standalone disposable device that monitors cow heat behaviour 24/7, was on display at this year’s National Fieldays.
Gallagher product manager Dan Loughnane says it generated huge interest among dairy farmers looking to improve their six-week in-calf rate and bottom line.
Dan says the benefits of a tighter calving pattern are significant, and include more days in milk, fewer empty cows and more calves produced through AI.
“Flashmate is the most exciting, simple, yet innovative heat detection product the market has seen.”
Thousands of hours of research have gone into developing Flashmate, which is the brainchild of two local entrepreneurs who chose Gallagher as their commercialisation partner because of its strong brand and global reach.
The easy-to-use device utilises technology similar to the touch screen on a smartphone, which is coupled with an intelligent microchip to look for specific patterns of riding activity, including the frequency, number and length of contact. Flashmate detects an extremely high percentage of cows in heat, including those very difficult to detect using tail paint alone.
Once a heat is identified, Flashmate will flash red for 26 hours, indicating the cow is ready for artificial insemination (AI). The device continues monitoring for subsequent heats and if the cow does not return to heat after 25 days it will begin flashing green to indicate that the cow is a ‘non-return’ and likely pregnant.
Trial farmers say that seeing more and more green lights arrive at the shed each day is a really positive experience and provides early feedback that the job has been done well.
Dan Loughnane says “You can’t control the milk price and you can’t control the weather, but if the average dairy farmer can lift their six-week in-calf rate from 65% to 75%, that’s worth an extra $60 per cow/year, which equates to around $24,000 for a typical farm.”
Because Flashmate is a standalone one-season product, there are no set-up capital costs, with the full benefits and a huge return on investment achieved the following season.
Easy to apply and maintain, Flashmate is placed on the cows back, forward of the tail head and to the side of the tail ridge.
Its simplicity and clever design means even staff with a limited understanding of heat detection can use Flashmate successfully.
“It’s like having a farmer with over 30 years of experience in heat detection sitting alongside each cow for the duration of breeding,” says Dan Loughnane.
“While farmers will be very excited by the financial returns, there are also many other benefits to using Flashmate. Other heat detection methods rely on experience and interpretation with varying results, but Flashmate leaves no room for doubt. The message is simple; if she has a red flashing light, mate her. Our owner-operator test farms have taken time off during the mating season for the first time in years, having full confidence that the heat detection job will still be done accurately in their absence.”
Flashmate will have a limited release in New Zealand this year to allow time for manufacturing processes to be scaled up, and will be fully available for the 2016/17 season.