Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

What do all of those squiggly lines mean?

PD Editor Walt Cooley Published on 20 September 2011

What if you could add an internal thermometer for each of your cows to see core body temperature changes and signatures of disease several days before a cow shows outward signs of illness? A simplified version of temperature monitoring data that some dairies are collecting is shown to the right with its associated signature health condition.

In Feb. 2009 as the industry was in a tail-spin I wrote the following optimistic opinion:



“Rumen monitoring bolus technology is evolving. In my opinion, the potential for wide-scale, on-farm implementation is drawing nearer.”

As interesting as the technology was to me or dairymen at that time, low milk prices and burned equity would end up wiping out nearly every dairy’s stomach for the intriguing technology which comes at a steep investment cost.

Throughout the downturn, I would get an occasional call from a dairyman asking: What have you heard about rumen monitoring boluses? Are they viable? Are the companies selling them even still in business?

At least one of the companies who first marketed the technology is no longer in business. Another resurrected itself after its bank failed. Yet another laid low through it all. (Read more on page 61 .)

But monitoring boluses are on the way back. Favorable milk prices in 2011 are opening the door for their consideration again.


We will need to see milk prices stay break-even or better for a while to give the technology a chance to take root. But I believe, as the early adopters do, that this isn’t just a fad but the future.

How quickly we get to the point of mass adoption is, again, probably a matter of milk price. How many three-year, up-and-down cycles like we’ve seen in recent years will it take before everyone is using monitoring boluses? In my opinion, that is the new question.

This issue contains a few other articles on new technologies (see pages 65, 68, 70 and 74 ). New technology and its application are always among the topics you say in our surveys that you want to read most. Enjoy!

Finally, I appreciate your continued comments on our ongoing poll requesting your opinions about NMPF’s Foundation for the Future plan. Keep the calls, e-mails and faxes coming. This is an important topic for the industry to continue discussing.

I hope to see some of you at World Dairy Expo. Please stop by one of our booths (AR 441 or EH 4400), if you will be in Madison. PD

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