Case Study: Vel'Phone calving alert

Author: Sarah Dusgate (innovation for Agriculture) - January 30, 2017.

The Vel’Phone calving alert technology is based on temperature analysis. The staff of Shordley Hall Farm in Wrexham aim to insert the thermometer probes in the vaginal canal of pregnant cows 3-4 days prior to calving. Ensuring good hygiene of the device is critical, so all equipment is thoroughly disinfected before use to prevent infections. 

Source: Richard Lloyd (Innovation for Agriculture) 

Soaking in warm water also softens the plastic. The probe is pushed into the insertion tool before being inserted into the birthing canal. The cow experiences slight discomfort for around 5 minutes. 

Twice daily, at 8am and 8pm, texts are received with temperature checks on every cow. A text alert is sent 48 hours prior to the onset of calving (this is calculated from temperature analysis). Between 8am-8pm, if the probe is pushed out with expulsion of the waters a text is sent straight away alerting the onset of calving.

Between 8pm-8am a text is received 45 minutes after the onset of calving so that when you get to the cow you expect to see the calf’s nose and front legs already presenting; rather than waiting for 45 minutes in the barn for the calf to arrive after the waters have been broken. Benefits: It provides confidence to the staff that they will not miss a calving.

Ultimately increasing live births, reducing calf still births and the effects of dystocia. Daily temperature checks can be used to alert the staff of infections such as mastitis. Work on the farm is more efficient because the staff have more time to get on with other tasks; reducing labour costs of manual routine inspections for signs of calving. Improvements to quality of life. The staff can get a more peaceful night sleep without having to undertake routine inspections throughout the night. They are only woken by a text alert of the onset of calving, and the 45 minute time delay they have set on the alert system reduces the time spent in the calving shed during the night. They can efficiently move the cow to a separate pen, ensure successful calving, milk the cow, feed the calf to ensure colostrum is consumed straight away, and then go back to bed. 

Read the entire case study here.