Pictured are the Te Mania Angus heifers at The Bay of Islands, Victoria, under contract management with Andrew Irvine.
In a series of industry firsts, an entire drop of Te Mania Angus heifers have been wearing Allflex Heatime Pro collars for almost three months now.
The project – which will be pivotal in providing data identifying vital early puberty information, as well as maturity, health and animal welfare – meant utilising new technology for the data to be captured.
Since this is the first time this dairy-based system has been applied in a beef herd, there were a number of technical logistics that had to be overcome.
One of the challenges was working out a way to capture the data in the paddocks, instead of the dairy shed, as animals came in each day. So with the help of Allflex and Sapien Technology, using modified Sapien built trailers, we cast a WiFi net over the heifers to capture all the data.
The implication of early puberty are the impacts on whole-of-life-fertility. If age of puberty gets too late, the heifers become difficult to join, and difficult to join throughout their lives. Using the Allflex Collar, we can determine a heifer’s age of puberty by recording their first oestrus cycle. This data is then used to significantly improve the accuracy of the fertility EBV.
By recording both growth and age of puberty, we can breed from the animals with increased growth and younger age of puberty, significantly improving productivity of the herd.
Heatime also records animal stress, rumination and activity. Being able to electronically measure illness and subsequent recovery rate, will give us the ability to select animals with better immune response and decreased genotypic illness rates.
The collars stay on these heifers until February, by this stage the collars will have pregnancy tested each animal based on behavioural data, saving time and cost by avoiding traditional pregnancy testing.
In the medium to long term, we plan to have the collars on the heifers earlier (around six months of age) and for longer (24 months) to measure their postpartum and oestrus.