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Stackyard News Jun 2010

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Silent Herdsman Makes Debut at Gold Cup Open Day

NMR will unveil its new electronic heat detection collar and monitoring system at the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup open day. This will be held on the 2009 Gold Cup winner Geoff Spence’s Lowfields Farm, in Brompton near Northallerton, on Wednesday June 30.

"The robust collar has a processor that continuously monitors and analyses all motion behaviour in 3D".

Silent Herdsman

The collar and its supporting software system, called Silent Herdsman, has been funded by a £4.75m Scottish Enterprise research and development programme and developed by the University of Strathclyde and Embedded Technology Solutions. It marks the next generation of electronic heat detection monitors and uses advanced motion technology. Silent Herdsman is available to UK producers through an exclusive agreement with NMR.

Results from trials carried out at SAC’s Acrehead dairy unit using Silent Herdsman show impressive levels of accuracy compared with similar but older systems. This is down to improved motion detection technology and more ‘intelligent’ equipment.

“Silent Herdsman has unique features,” says NMR’s managing director Andy Warne. “The robust collar has a processor that continuously monitors and analyses all motion behaviour in 3D, replacing more dated motion technology that records only movement in one plane.

“And within this monitor is a solid state motion detector, known as an accelerometer and similar to that used in air bags and the Wii games console, which measures behaviour. This is the most advanced motion detection technology available that has been tried and tested to be highly reliable.”

The Silent Herdsman collar has the ability, through the processor, to communicate with a farm base station by radio and wirelessly. “Information is reliably passed to the farm PC 24/7 and is a major step forward from the infra-red devices where information is typically relayed two or three times a day,”

Silent Herdsman collars have been trialled at SAC’s Acrehead farm in Dumfries on the 170-cow Holstein herd with results analysed by the University of Strathclyde. During the course of the trial the accuracy rate was 86% confirmed by progesterone sampling, between 10% and 20% higher than previous devices that the researchers have investigated.

“Silent Herdsman has unique features that contribute to its enviable accuracy levels and we are confident that it will bring significant advantages to fertility management in many of our herds,” adds Andy Warne. “The collars are robust and thanks to the technology, they can be calibrated in only two or three days compared with older versions that might take seven days. And the automatic data transfer to the PC makes the latest details available for processing and alerts the stockman to oestrus detected in a simple and reliable format.”

Priced competitively alongside other electronic heat detection systems, NMR will supply a package of collars, the base station and the PC with Silent Herdsman software. Included in the one-off cost will be the installation, which includes the secure fastening of the base station to a wall or pillar in the cubicle housing and training. Data downloads take place when the cows are within 30 to 50 metres of the base station. NMR plans to link Silent Herdsman to its dairy management programs like InterHerd.

The NMR/RABDF Gold Cup open day is for all producers and starts at 10.30am with a programme of speakers and a chance to look around the herd.

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