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Monitoring Rumen pH Levels

Many dairy cows will develop acidosis in the period after calving. This will reduce milk fat and total output and in some cases can lead to more serious diseases such as ketosis and lameness. The cost of these diseases has been estimated at up to $350 per cow.

Monitoring rumen pH levels in some of the cows in a herd can provide farmers and vets with vital information that is indicative of the state of health of the whole herd. If such sentinel cows exhibit acidosis, a rumen pH of less than 5.5, then a change in feeding strategy can be made to avoid the developing problem.

The only current methods of monitoring the rumen pH are invasive veterinary procedures to collect fluid samples for off-line analysis or the use of wire connected pH sensors with data collection devices external to the animal. These sensors can be inserted inserted through a cannula but are inferior to wireless telemetry devices which can be inserted directly into the rumen. Such devices which can last for a sufficient time are however not yet available commercially, although they are under development. Rumen pH monitoring devices which can last for short periods of up to about 14 days, are available and have been trialled and used to prove the feasibility of such monitoring approaches.

The development of devices which can last for up to 100 days and which can be read remotely and report back to farm information systems is now well advanced and prototype devices are in current trials.

Well Cow Ltd. is the leader in the development of wireless rumen pH monitoring devices.

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