Like most dairy farmers, JJ Willcocks, and his wife Kiki, who farm at Washaway near Bodmin are
score his herd of cross-bred cows four times a year. Having previously had this carried out visually by
company, he believes the opportunity to automate the process will bring significant management benefits.
“Quarterly mobility scoring does not really help us keep on top of lameness, but daily assessment and
of problem cows will mean we can treat problems quickly, before they become more serious and costly,” he
comments. “By recording every cow, every time they walk under the camera, the HerdVision system will give
us the timely data we need.”
Mr Willcocks runs a herd of 300 cross bred Norwegian Red, Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde cows. The cows
calve as an autumn
block, calving from the end of July until the beginning of October to make full use of grazing.
A network of tracks means cows can graze most of the 300ha farm with the furthest field nearly a kilometre
away. Being a
free draining farm, cows are usually out by mid-February by day and out by night by mid-April. Most years
the whole herd
will be dried off.
In the winter the cows are TMR fed a diet of grass silage, wholecrop, fodder beet and a blend with dairy
compound fed to yield in the parlour. They are housed as one milking group and serving starts on October
10th. The herd is averaging 7500 litres at 4.5% fat and 3.5% protein. Over 4000 litres are produced from
Cows are routinely foot trimmed at 120 days in milk and at drying off. When visually mobility scoring,
cows scoring 2 or 3 were held back and checked. Any cows suspected of being lame between scoring session
would be held back after milking to be checked.
“It was my vet who first suggested we look at automating mobility scoring to help us maintain high
standards of foot
health. In addition, the HerdVision system would condition score cows far more effectively. We had
condition scored twice a year, but it was all rather subjective.”
Mr Willcocks says the immediacy of mobility data has made a big difference. Alerts are sent to his and the
mobile phone and problem cows are drafted at the next milking.
“We are picking up cows sooner, and as we expect cows to walk a long way to some of the grazing we need
them sound on
their feet. Treating problems sooner has reduced treatment costs and the cows’ routine in not disrupted,
always a problem with visual assessment.”
Mr Willcocks says there are particular benefits from regular body condition scoring. He is looking to dry
cows off at
condition score 3.0-3.5 and to serve them at 2.5-3.0. Running a tight block means all cows are treated the
same and he
can get a good picture of herd condition at any time as an indicator of grazing availability.
“The farm is prone to drying out and even though we plate meter all grazing throughout the grazing the
gives us another way to monitor performance.
“When cows are dry we bring them through the parlour every week so we can check the teats and for
footbathing and now we can monitor dry cow condition as well.
“The practical benefit of the system is that the cows are totally unaware of it, reducing stress and we
get far more
useful management information. The fact that it works off the same EID tag as the parlour feeders and the
is another practical benefit because the simpler and easier things are to do, the more likely they will be
(Published in Dairy Farmer)”