Modern Farm Problems: Silent Heat

March 5th 2021

The profitability of farms heavily depends on tracking estrous cycles of the cows. However, nowadays modern farms suffer from silent heat problems. In this blog post, we tried to investigate the causes and the results of the silent heat problem in dairy farms.

Behavioral Changes and Signs

Estrous tracking is one of the most crucial issues in stock breeding. The estrous cycle of cattle is the period from one estrus to the next. It is important to pre-determine this period because each missed heat (estrous cycle) is equivalent to 21 days loss in production as heat detection is labor-intensive and time-consuming.

According to the latest studies (Leroy et al. 2018) in this period observable signs are increases in the activity mounting, standing to be mounting, mucus discharge from the vulva, decrease in the rumination, and milk yield during the preceding milking. Heats occur more often at night (Wangler et al. 2005) and the average heat detection rate via visual monitoring is approximately 55% (Firk et al. 2002).

Silent Heat

Although there are hormonal changes in their bodies, animals do not show this as activity and behavioral changes, this is called silent heat. This is the lack of behavioral estrus symptoms and it is the most common problem of all dairy herds. Especially during summer, the cows are under increased environmental temperature and at high relative humidity. Therefore, cows are under heat stress, which suppresses behavioral symptoms of heat.

It is essential to follow up in order not to miss an estrous cycle. Fundamental methods to follow up on this phenomenon are observation or using supportive devices.

Modern Farm Problems

In modern farms missing estrus cycles causes a decrease in hormone levels and loss of milk in cows; this leads to a rapid decrease in productivity for farms. Besides, silent heat symptoms can easily be missed by workers. In order not to miss the heat, it is necessary to make checks in very short periods and this is quite difficult. Moreover, the larger the herd gets, it becomes difficult to maintain control.

Economical Impact

According to a study done in 2018, the simulation results show that the net return of investing in an automatic heat detection system ranges in all scenarios from 33 to +111 € per cow and year, with mean values of +6 to +35 € per cow and year. In general, the net return is independent of the milk production level assumed. A comparison amongst all scenarios shows higher net returns for bigger herd sizes, due to fixed cost degression effects. (Pfeiffer et al. 2018)

What is the solution?

wiCow is an intravaginal device for health tracking. It reaches %93 hit rate in heat alarms. It is the most convenient device for accurate insemination time estimation and it detects signals of hidden heat in cows. wiCow is also capable of 24/7 fever detection. Thanks to wiCow, farmers do not need to track every cow by observing. wiCow system handles the troublesome part for easy, profitable stockbreeding. Happy cows, happy farmers.