Authors: Marie Penn - FNB (;  Philippe Dimon – IDELE (

This demonstration concerns the use of an automated oestrus (and calving) detection system. It took place on the farm of Laurent and Christèle Comby (GAEC de L'Enfantier), located in the Corrèze department (France). They have been using an automatic heat detection system (Smartvel®) for over 5 years. 

 The demonstration was organised for a group of 5 participants, including farmers and technicians, who visited the department as part of the INOSYS livestock network. The aim of the visit was to discover the diversity of suckler cattle breeding systems present in the Limousin region. In particular, there are systems for breeding, breeding and fattening young cattle, or breeding and fattening calves under the mother's milk. The GAEC de Lenfantier is representative of the breeder-fattener of calves under the mother.

 The demonstration addressed several issues:  

  • Explanation by the farmers of the functioning of their farm (herd, surface, crop rotation, marketing).
  • Demonstration by the farmers of how the automatic oestrus detection system works: fitting on a cow, using the application on a mobile phone.      
  • Explanation of the advantages and disadvantages (economic, labour) that the farmers have identified with this tool.
  • Explanation by an IDELE engineer of the impact of this tool on the reproductive performance of cows.

 The demonstration was held on a beef farm specialising in the production of milk-fed calves. The reproduction system is based on natural mating, which results in about 120 calving spread out over the year. However, farmers need help in the heat detecting and also in monitoring calving.

 Several benefits were seen after trying out this demonstration, such as:

-Improvement of the technical performance of the farm: before the use of the detection tool, the mortality rate was close to 6 to 7%. Currently, this rate is between 1 and 2%. In addition, the interval between calving is less than 360 days, i.e. 40 days less than the average for farms from Corrèze department.

- Reduction in work and monitoring time: the farmers spend only 1 hour per day monitoring the herd, whereas this time was estimated at 2 to 3 hours per day before the purchase of the detection tool.  

- Improved animal welfare: farmers can intervene very quickly at calving time.  

- Improvement in relation to the effects of climate change: the use of the detection tool allows all cows in heat to be put to breeding. The farmers then carry out ultrasound scans and the cows that are not pregnant are fattened and sent to the slaughterhouse.

 The main difficulty observed in implementing this method was getting to grips with the tool, as the farmers had to learn how to install the tool on the cows and how to use it. 

Some additional costs/savings were observed in implementing this innovation:

Additional costs observed 

The tool costs 3,000 euros each year: this includes an annual subscription for the use of the detectors (10 devices are available on the farm).

Additional savings observed 

By reducing the mortality rate, the income from the sale of milk-fed calves has increased significantly (the use of the tool is profitable with the sale of 2 additional calves).

 Finally, the tool is recommended by farmers for two reasons: for economic benefits (soils, climate, biodiversity) and for the reduction of working hours and the well-being of farmers 


Demonstrations on Automated estrus detection were also carried out in Spain and Ireland.

Link to the innovation on BKH: