Read how WellCalf helped improve calf health and the impacts on growth rates of early life improvements.
GH Barbour has a large calf-rearing unit with an annual throughput of 2000 animals. Batches of dairy-beef calves are sourced from local dairy farms at 2-4 weeks of age and reared in batches of 100.
Calves are most vulnerable to disease in the first 4 months of life. The movement of calves pre-weaning may lead to increased levels of stress and mixing animals from different origin farms increases risk of disease transfer.
Smartbell Ear Tags were applied to 3 separate groups of calves in batches arriving during the autumn, winter and spring. For each batch, a control group arriving at the same time was left untagged. The Smartbell tag provided constant monitoring of the animals and if an anomaly was detected, an alert sent to the calf rearer on their phone prompting early examination for signs of early disease on-set. The Smartbell alerts provided daily guidance and group performance analysis, as well as the early warning alerts.
We got a red alert, so I dropped what I was doing and the tag had picked up a calf which was bloating. We treated it that afternoon, but if I hadn’t got the alert then the calf probably would have been dead in the morning. The Smartbell system has helped us to develop our calf health protocols, improving our performance as well as our animal health and welfare
The direct alerts resulted in more individual calf assessments on animals with the data detection prompting earlier identification of disease concerns. This led to higher disease detection rates and early individual animal treatments. Timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment resulted in improved health and growth of the calves, and highlighted previously unidentified health problems.
We believe that the data generated and collected by farms should work to empower their decision making, improve animal health and improve profit margins.