(HULL, IA) - Dairy farmers constantly look for ways to increase their milk production. The more cows they have the more milk they can produce.
Josh Hulstein and his brothers run the family dairy farm, Hulstein Dairy. For a year and a half now, they've been using technology to help their cows reproduce even more because their cows let them know when they're ready for action.
It's called the Select Detect system. Josh Hulstein and his co-workers installed it in their dairy barn a year ago June. Each cow gets a collar with the monitor.
"It'll measure the activity. It'll base it off her normal activity versus the herd's activity so if she's in heat, her activity will be higher than the normal activity," explained Hulstein.
The Hulsteins have to be sure this heat-detecting technology works to their advantage.
"We like to make sure the thing is snug so it collects all the information of the activity of the cow so it's not sloppy, gets all the information correctly," said Hulstein as he tightened a collar on a cow. "The collar has accelerometers in it. It judges the cows' activity back and forth, up-down, sideways, every direction you think about."
Once those collars are on the cows, it'll send information back to a computer. So say one of them is in heat. it'll send a message and Josh can reach that information on his phone on an app or on the computer.
"When you open the program up, it'll have active cows that are potentially in heat, cows that are expected to be in heat, cows that are possibly sick and cows that have low batteries," said Hulstein.
By using these ready-to-go monitors on their cows, the Hulsteins can better communicate with their vet.
"They can come here after they get done with work, their normal job and actually still be able to monitor. Ok, this cow wasn't acting right. So we need to look at her, see if we need to do any treatments or have us come out to look at the cows further. And yeah, it's definitely helped with the health aspect with the cows just that they get caught quicker," said veterinarian Brian Cuperus.
Just knowing when the cows are in the mood has improved Hulstein Dairy.
"Our success rate's gone up about 10 percent. Our preg rate's gone up quite a bit. Our days of milk are way less than they used to be. And our cows are milking much better because they're all coming back again getting peak milk production. We're really seeing a lot of benefit right now. A year and half ago, we put it in and we got really, really good results now," said Hulstein.
Hulstein also said the alert system has made labor more efficient so his guys don't have to be present to know when their cows need a little extra attention.