Healthy cows are the goal of any successful dairy. Also on the list is high production, maximum feed efficiency and good conception rates, preferably with a new heifer on board. With that in mind, DeLaval rolled out its Herd Navigator — an at-the-milker milk analysis system that scans milk samples for a number of components. The launch of Herd Navigator at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show this week marks the North American release of this state-of-the-art production tool.
RealAgriculture.com caught up with Mike Futcher, marketing manager, automatic milkers for DeLaval North America, to discuss the capabilities of Herd Navigator. Futcher says Herd Navigator can be set to flag only certain animals — those cows about to go into heat, those with early signs of mastitis or those that have aborted — allowing the farmer to save time by focusing on only those that need attention. It can even measure urea content (a factor of protein in the diet) to help fine-tune rations, and thus minimize nitrogen concentration in the manure.
Herd Navigator is a truly automatic system and a part of a nearly fully automated dairy, yes, but Futcher points out that all of this automation only makes producing milk more efficient and streamlined — nothing can replace the experience and hands-on management of the farmer.
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