Using Moocall Heat detection technology to reduce the calving interval and enable a change to AI in suckler herds

Introduction to the challenge addressed

Joe Dooley is a part-time suckler farmer producing quality weanlings on his 37 ha. grass farm on the Laois/Offaly boarder in the Irish midlands. He farms 50 suckler cows, mainly Limousine, Belgium Blue and Angus cross cows, selling weanling and yearling animals at his local livestock mart. 

With a view to increasing productivity and quality, Joe wanted to move to using AI (Artificial Insemination) but heat detection was proving extremely difficult because he was working off farm.

Description of the Good practice.

In 2019, the farmer purchased the Moocall Heat detection technology, which delivers accurate heat detection in the farmers absence. In turn this has enabled the move to the use of AI in the herd, increased productivity and quality and tightened his calving interval. 

The Moocall technology works on the basis of an RFID tag on each cow and a collar on the bull (vasectomised bull when using AI) which sends a text message to the farmers phone when the cow is in heat. An app on the farmers mobile phone provides all the essential breeding data for each cow.

The system works on the basis of monitoring the behaviour of the bull and his handling of the cows. It measures the activities of the bull including rest periods, movement and mounting. It also measures the distance from the cow to the bull, the time spent by  the bull with a cow and the starting behaviour of bulls. An algorithm has been developed that is based on this behaviour pattern and isolates activities and then notifies the user. 

An RFID tag is assigned to each cow/heifer. The bull sensor measures the proximity between the cow and the bull to accurately predict heat, the sensor also measures the number of mounts and half mounts. If the bull detects a heat, the Moocall heat collar sends a notification. An SMS and email will be sent to the farmer’s mobile phone. Data will be sent to the Moocall breedmanager app. 

Impact on farm performance.

The Moocall heat detection technology has facilitated the move to AI in the herd, thereby increasing the choice and quality of sire to be used. In terms of socio-economic resilience, the farmer estimates that the value of weanlings/yearlings sold has increased by €150 to €200 per cow since AI was introduced. In addition, the labour and time input on heat detection has reduced and what was an almost impossible task has become easy.

In terms of production efficiency and meat quality, in the first year using the Moocall heat, 65% of the cows were inseminated with AI. In year 2, this increased to 80%, with a stock bull used to tidy up the herd. Calving interval is running at 358 days for 95% of the herd. The use of AI has increased calf quality and ADG, resulting in heavier weanlings at sale. This in turn will contributed to environmental sustainability producing heavier animals at a younger age.

The farmer also uses the Moocall calving sensor, which is very beneficial as he lives away from the farmyard. He estimates it saves up to 2 calves at birth each year contributing significantly in terms of economic sustainability and also in terms of animal health and welfare.

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Farmer comment

“As a part time suckler farmer, Moocall heat has enabled me move to AI delivering €150 to €200 extra returns per calf and it has also reduced my time/labour input”, Joe Dooley.

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