You know the story about snowflakes and fingerprints – no two are alike. So goes it with your herd, too. Each cow is an individual requiring unique care. Making a best – and even experienced – guess at when to breed or what to feed your cows is tricky business. The DeLaval body condition scoring BCS system is designed to take the guesswork out of some critical farm management decisions.
What is the DeLaval BCS system?
Mounted to a VMS™ or a DeLaval sorting gate in a parlour, the BCS system provides body condition scores for the herd by capturing individual images of each cow. It integrates with DelPro™ farm management software to deliver another layer of data-driven decision making information void of inaccurate manual evaluations.
BCS uses 3-D imaging technology to measure the body fat on the backside of the cow. This fully automated scoring system enables better feed planning, which helps to ensure your cows have healthy body fat reserves. This promotes milk production, reproductive efficiency and cow longevity.
Why use it?
Knowing the body condition of your cows and acting on the data will help ensure optimal condition at dry-off, helping prepare for a great start to the next lactation.
“The BCS system is the perfect complement to DeLaval VMS, where we can adjust rations to what each individual cow really needs,” says Joaquín Azocar, DeLaval Market Solution Manager. “Although parlour milking systems can also benefit from BCS, a herd manager can easily respond to a change in a cow’s body condition score by adjusting her ration or assigning her to a different feeding group.”
DeLaval is paving the way for innovative farm management technology with BCS – the only fully automated body condition scoring tool on the market. Not only can a producer use the information provided by BCS to group cows more efficiently, but it can also help reduce feed costs and improve herd health – equating to better milk production and reproduction rates.
Aim for peak performance
Westar Holsteins of Chilliwack, British Columbia, installed a BCS camera on their VMS Smart Gate. Owner Bob Matzek says BCS helps them manage peak performance of their 50-cow herd by aiding breeding and nutrition decisions.
Through DelPro, the BCS system allows you to manage your cows on an individual basis. This first-lactation cow maintained an ideal body condition score throughout her lactation, and as a result, achieved great production. She was in heat, bred and confirmed pregnant at the right time and will be ready for a second productive lactation.
“We first started using the camera for breeding purposes, which resulted in breeding cows later in lactation,” Matzek says. “Our farm is also using the system to help tweak our nutritional needs, too.”
DeLaval Solution Support Specialist Sjenk VanSoelen works closely with Westar Holsteins to help the dairy get the most out of their BCS system. “It’s really impressive what they’ve been able to achieve with this data,” he says. “Breeding later in lactation and tailoring their herd’s nutrition has translated to greater profitability and a more efficient operation overall.”
Consider all the data
Azocar also noted that it’s important to consider all the data when working with the BCS system. “When you can put milk production information, health, reproductive and activity records together with the BCS data, you can see the real impact body condition has on your herd’s production, reproduction and feed efficiency,” he says.
The BCS system provides accurate and objective body scores every day, for all the cows: an impossible task with manual scoring.