Modern technology can change a farmer’s life. That’s the lesson that Tim Leahy, a dairy farmer whose farm straddles the border between Kerry and Limerick, learned when he invested in Dairymaster’s MooMonitor+.
“I have a spring-calving herd of 140 dairy cows,” says Tim, who took over the family farm near Listowel, from his father six years ago. “I invested in the MooMonitor+ in March 2017 and I have to say that it’s given me my life back.” Before the MooMonitor+ came along, Tim was trying his best to improve his animal’s performance. “I’m very driven by figures and I set myself targets to improve the herd,” he says. “But there’s a lot of work in it when you’re doing it by yourself and I was working very hard and was physically tired as a result. I knew I couldn’t keep it up in the long term.”
It monitors cows 24X7
Now, the MooMonitor+ does all of the hard work for him. “The way that I would describe it is that it’s like a Fitbit,” he says. “The cow wears a collar around its neck and that collar has a monitor in it which tracks the cow all day, every day. It can tell me how long she spends sitting down, how long she spends eating and sleeping, how long she spends chewing the cud and when she’s in heat. I don’t have to figure any of this out for myself. It does it for me.”
This information is collated for every single cow in Tim’s herd and it’s updated onto an app on his phone and his computer. “Those are my command centres,” says Tim. “If a cow starts to behave unusually in any way, the monitor will pick it up and the issue will be flagged on my phone or my computer. That way, I know what’s going on out in the yard before I ever go outside myself.”
Getting the most from your herd
The labour-saving aspect of the MooMonitor+ is only one of its many advantages, according to Tim. “Last year in February and March, we milked 20,000 litres more than we had done the year before and that was entirely thanks to the technology offered by the MooMonitor+,” he says. “That’s an extra €7,000 in yearly revenue.” One of the ways it did this was by identifying cows that were underperforming as well as those that were performing well. “With the help of this technology, you can get the most out of your cows,” says Tim.
The technology helps when it comes to monitoring sick animals too “Whenever we have vet visits, I can easily monitor the animals afterwards,” says Tim. “Using the MooMonitor+, I can keep track of the animal’s rumination and overall behaviour and that way, I can tell if they are getting better or worse.”
Tim uses his MooMonitor+ in conjunction with a Dairymaster drafting gate “This is ideal for when you want to divide the cows into those who are in heat and those who aren’t,” he says. “This is a very time-consuming job when you’re doing it unaided but it’s one that the MooMonitor+ and the drafting gate do for you in minutes, without you even having to think about it. It changes everything.”
Tim couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this life-changing technology. “It gives me access to so much information about my herd,” he says. “Whatever they do, I know about it immediately.” He believes that every farmer with more than 80 cows will end up investing in some form of this technology in the coming years. “It leads to such improvements in farming,” he says. “It takes over so many jobs that you’ll never again have to do, and it does those jobs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Quick return on investment
Even Tim’s 74-year-old father has been won over by the MooMonitor+. “He wasn’t so sure about the investment at first,” says Tim. “But even though he’d never say it to me, I’ve heard him praising the technology to others. He’s an old-school farmer but even he can see the value of it.”