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Precision farming innovations boost beef operations
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/22/2024

Precision farming technologies are reshaping beef operations, with a focus on both cattle and forage management. Two key technologies revolutionizing cattle management are activity monitoring systems and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ear tags.

Activity monitoring systems, adapted from the dairy industry, use accelerometers on the cow's ear, neck, or leg to track rumination and eating time. Widely adopted in cow-calf operations with artificial insemination, these systems improve heat detection. Studies on dairy cows have translated well to beef operations, demonstrating the systems' effectiveness. They detect estrus with 90-97.9% accuracy, outperforming traditional visual methods. Challenges include oversight of non-cycling animals, emphasizing the need for cross-referencing insemination records.

For pasture-based systems, the placement of receivers is crucial, often near water sources, powered by solar-charged batteries. Activity monitoring systems also find applications in feedlots for illness detection, offering cost-effective reusability.

Complementing these systems, RFID ear tags serve as a foundation for smartphone-based record-keeping and precision feeding. They enable automated data capture during various activities, streamlining record-keeping for vaccinations, treatments, and breeding. RFID tags are integral to automated feeding systems, allowing tailored nutrition plans for individual animals within a group. This flexibility is valuable for adjusting nutrition based on factors like lactation status or age.

The integration of activity monitoring systems and RFID technology signifies a significant leap in precision livestock farming. These technologies empower beef producers with efficient tools for managing cattle health, reproduction, and nutrition, contributing to enhanced overall farm productivity. As the agricultural landscape embraces these innovations, the potential for improved efficiency and sustainability in beef operations becomes increasingly apparent.

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