Health Benefits of Monitoring Rumination

It is now common for neckcollars and eartags to measure rumination, as well as activity, in automatic heat detection systems. However there is a greater benefit in the use of rumination data as an early warning health alert. Not only are cows monitored 24 hours a day and alerts sent to the stockman when a problem arises – allowing time to be focused on animals that need attention – but a reduction in rumination rate is an earlier symptom than the more obvious signs of sickness that are traditionally seen. This early diagnosis leads to a wider range of potential treatments, many curative averting the need of antibiotic use, making the symptoms less severe and allowing a much quicker recovery.

For example, at the South West Dairy Development Centre, the Smartbow eartag identified reduced rumination at 3 days post calving, prompting a vet diagnosis of a dilated abomasum – the first stage of a DA. Appropriate treatment avoided the need for an operation – and the corresponding antibiotic use – and resulted in a quickly recovered cow.

Similarly monitoring rumination can identify early stages of ketosis, acidosis, mastitis and even the time of calving. Monitoring rumination at a herd/ group can identify Sub Acute Ruminal Acidosis, suboptimal dry cow transition diets, and even poor forage quality.

Remotely monitoring rumination rate can also indicate if a treatment has been successful. Two technologies – Cow Manager and SmaXtec (a rumen bolus) also include temperature in the health alert algorithm.

Monitoring rumination can save time, improve animal health, reduce stress, improve treatment outcomes, increase production and reduce antibiotic use.