If you’ve ever body condition scored dairy cows, you know it’s a tedious, time consuming task prone to error and inconsistency.
DeLaval now offers a technology solution, a high-speed 3 dimensional camera that captures 32,000 points of a cow’s lower back. The camera captures 30 images per second as the cow walks under the camera, explains Fernando Mazeris, vice president of farm management support systems. Mazeris spoke at the 2015 Precision Dairy Conference and Expo here in Rochester, Minn. this week.
The 3D image is analyzed to determine the amount of fat covering the loin, rump, tailhead, hooks, pins and short ribs, says Mazeris. From this information, software calculates the body condition score.
The camera and accompanying software is far more accurate than human body condition scoring, and can be done daily as cows enter or exit milking parlors. Research has shown humans can be within plus or minus one-quarter of a body condition score 98% of the time. But the DeLaval body condition scoring system has an error rate of less than 0.1% standard deviation.
Routine body condition scoring can alert herd managers to problems late in lactation, which can lead to problems during and after calving. In addition, failure to regain condition after calving will likely lead to breeding problems.
The DeLaval system provides automated reports, alerting farmers, veterinarians and nutritionists to potential health problems. The reports can be done as individual cow, group or herd profiles to give managers a sense body condition over time. Alerts can also be sent if an individual cow falls below a certain score. The retail price is $5,000 per camera plus an annual per cow licensing fee.
Read more information on the DeLaval body condition scoring system here.