Since 2021, the Hele Barton Farm in Cornwall, UK has been using the smaXtec health system. Farm manager Bill Jewell shares his experience with detecting and managing diseases, and how smaXtec has helped him to improve fertility and reproduction on the farm.
Less problems with mastitis thanks to early treatment
Bill Jewell and the farm staff benefit from the smaXtec health alerts they receive via mobile phone and on the parlour computer. Checking the alerts and graphs have become a daily routine every morning. smaXtec’s early detection has changed the way they manage diseases like mastitis. “All the cases of mastitis are picked up via this system”, Bill Jewell reports. “Since installing smaXtec, I honestly can't say that we've had any prequartered cows from having mastitis. There has not been a case that we've missed from the use of using smaXtec.”
Early detection of mastitis and other diseases makes early intervention possible. “Because we're picking up so quickly, the cow recovers far quicker, because you haven't got that stage of a swollen quarter. You haven't got that stage of really cruddy milk coming out. You're hitting it sooner and it's just improving quicker”, says Bill Jewell.
Healthy udders and consistent milk yield
“Before smaXtec, we had E. coli mastitis. Nine times out of ten, the cow lost her milk for that lactation or lost her life. We always had issues with that. Now, if we have a smaXtec alert, we can see straight away, that the rumination has dropped off and that we've had a high spike in temperature. Then we are on it and the cow is treated. We don't seem to cull any animals through having problems with E. coli anymore”, reports Bill Jewell.
Also, in terms of ketosis, smaXtec helps the farmer to detect and avoid the disease as early as possible, thanks to the precise measurement of important health parameters such as inner body temperature, water intake, rumination and activity. “With ketosis, you can soon tell if something is not right. You've got the activity, you've got the rumination, you've got the water alerts, and you know if an animal is not performing”, says Bill Jewell, who enjoys tracking the success of treatments through smaXtec, too: “You know the treatment is working, because you can see the drinking has increased, the rumination starts climbing back up to where it should be - that's probably one of the nicest things to see: when a treatment is working, and after you've treated her, it all goes back to normal.”
Reduced antibiotic usage and more milk in the tank
“Antibiotic use has definitely dropped because we're not treating the cows for so long. In the past we've had cows on antibiotics for seven days, we tried to get rid of that case and not to lose the quarter. Now it's generally rule of thumb: It's three days of tubes and some pen strap and the animal is back in the tank”, reports Bill Jewell.
“smaXtec has given me the opportunity of seeing the cow’s health, without being in the parlour all the time. It pinpoints where we've got to look. So, we're not looking at 650 cows, we're looking at a handful of cows that have got issues at that time”, he says.
More calves thanks to calving alerts
Because of the spring calving, up to 35 births in one day are quite common on Hele Barton Farm. smaXtec’s calving alerts have significantly helped in optimizing calving management. “Since having smaXtec, we get the calving alerts, which save a number of calves. I can think of a number of cases where we've had an alert and I've just asked the guys to go and check on that cow. They pull her out and the cow calves on straw and it’s all under control”, says Bill Jewell.
Heat detection with optimal insemination time window
“We use it to see if the cow is cycling first, before we start breeding. So, we pull out any that isn't cycling or we pull out any that is cycling too many times and on the day of service, we go by the window”, reports Bill Jewell about the smaXtec heat detection. “There's times I've missed animals and smaXtec picked it up.”
Detect water supply failures immediately
smaXtec’s TruDrinking technology is the only one measuring the water intake of every cow. Together with the drinking cycle alerts, farmers have even more insights into herd health and water supply and can detect failures easily. “The drinking alerts also highlights if we've got a problem with a drinker, where you get a number of notifications that cows haven't drunk in a while. And that's been a pretty valuable item to have for the system”, say Bill Jewell.
Easy installation and comprehensive support
“Prior to installing smaXtec, the competitors said how difficult it was with putting boluses in all the cows and putting up different antennas. But the system has been absolutely trouble free. Once the antennas are installed by smaXtec themselves, they help with installing the boluses in the cows”, reports Bill Jewell. “The support has been second to none. If there's ever an issue, Helen is always at the end of the phone and she's actually notifying me, if a bolus hasn't been read for a couple of days. I can't fault the whole support from smaXtec.”
Benefits that pay off
Bill Jewell is convinced that with smaXtec he can rely on cutting-edge technologies, unique functions, and optimal services. “I'm always looking just to see what's around the corner or what's on the market. And at the moment, having the health alerts, having that bolus inside the cow, giving you the herd temperature, that’s just second to none. And it just works perfectly. I would recommend it.”
“If anybody asked me, ‘Would you install it again?’ The answer would be ‘Yes’.”