Sereg-Tej teams up with Ida for more performance improvements

November 30, 2021
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The first thing you notice in the office at Sereg-Tej is the sheer number of certificates on the walls. The farm consistently ranks within the top 16 farms of 450 Hungarian Holstein farms. It has been recognized annually by the Hungarian Holstein Friesian Breeders Association for its above-average performance in average milk kg/cow/ closed lactation. The association has also awarded 18 certificates recognizing cows who produce 100.000 kg milk in her lifetime.

Sereg-Tej’s top-tier breeding program drove its historic success. But it is impossible to miss the dramatic impact of Balázs Csánk’s leadership, his team on the farm, and new partners like Ida on the farm’s operational success. 

Farm Overview

Name

Balázs Csánk

Position

Farm Manager

Farm

Sereg-Tej Kft

Place

Seregélyes, Hungary

Dairy Cows

500

Land

170-180 hectares of corn – special silage hybrids, and cca. 150 hectares of alfalfa for haylage and hay

Hired Ida

September 2020

Key Results

36-48 hours

Earlier than SCR for heat stress alert

0 dead cows

In the milking groups during heat wave

16-day

Improvement in calving interval

10% year-over-year increase

In conception rate (first insemination)

€25-30

Saved per cow/lactation saved in hormone treatments

Change isn't easy

Balázs spent nearly 20 years working with dairy farmers around the world before joining the Sereg-Tej team in 2019. One of his first tasks was implementing a new operation management system. The change wasn't easy. "Change management is hard when there is 20-30 years of ‘We have always done it that way’ instead of ‘this is the most expensive way in every business.’ There were a lot of arguments about changes to the feeding system. We had to prove the value with cost savings." 

With better nutrition program, very high quality forages and new operations structure in place, Balázs kept an eye out for new ideas that could further improve performance. He was familiar with animal monitoring technology and the farm still had SCR sensors on 200 dairy cows, a carryover from the previous management team. However, his interest was piqued when Ágnes Berkes, a sales director from Kersia, introduced him to Ida. " Ágnes and I are partners. She comes with an open mind and solutions, not just products. We trust each other because we're in it together. So when she told me about Ida, I was open to try it." 

A new partner joins the team

Ida arrived at Sereg-Tej in September 2020. Installation was seamless. "The guys were done in about 6 hours, which was much faster than I expected. Nothing goes this fast," he said, chuckling. 

Balázs had no initial expectations for Ida. "The first few weeks not much happened. She was getting data from the cows. But then the information started coming in." As Ida learned more about the herd and received feedback from the Sereg-Tej team, Balázs noticed significant improvements in her precision. "She is always working...she is never sick, never has a problem at home. And unlike SCR, her algorithms aren’t fixed and she is always learning. After the first six months, she had become incredibly sensitive to the cows.”

She is always working...she is never sick, never has a problem at home. And unlike SCR, her algorithms aren’t fixed and she is always learning.

Early notification is the difference between life and death

The deep sensitivity paid off during the extraordinarily hot summer of 2021. SCR and Ida detected behaviors related to heat stress for the 200 cows wearing both sensors. However, Ida's notifications arrived an average of 36-48 hours before SCR’s alerts. “The thermometer showed 42 degrees in the sun. When they came back from the parlor, every second cow had a bloody nose. It was a terrible, terrible experience. I have never seen these heavy signs of heat stress before. But we were able to address the problem faster with Ida, and this meant the life during the summer. We had no dead cows in the milking groups this summer because of her early alerts."

But we were able to address the problem faster with Ida. We had no dead cows in the milking groups this summer because of her early alerts.

Calving just keeps getting better

In addition to heat stress, Ida has also helped the team improve their breeding program. “In 2019, our calving interval was 427 days. Last year it was down to 416 days. As Ida joined our team and became an integral part of the farm, she helps us reach the goals we set for ourselves. Now we’re anticipating around 400 days,” said Balázs. Since Ida joined the team, Sereg-Tej has ended its hormone program and lowered its voluntary waiting period from 71 to 55 days. 

She also ensures the team knows when a cow is calving. “Ida tells us about 4 hours before calving. The team checks the alerts before leaving the farm so we know we won’t have problems overnight. Now we don’t have dead calves because of undetected calvings.”

An incredible dairy assistant is a valuable partner

To get the most out of Ida, Balázs says two things are required. “First, you need to have the basics done right. If your feed is not good or you don't invest in cow health, Ida won’t save you. Second, you need to be open to change.” He reflected on a fellow farm manager who visited the farm and asked about Ida’s heat detection. “You’re asking the wrong question. Heat detection is only 5% of what Ida can do. What else do you want to do with her? She can do so much more...the other 95% is powerful.”

What else do you want to do with her? She can do so much more...the other 95% is powerful.

As the conversation came to a close, Balázs had just one question for the group. “I’ve always wondered what ‘Ida’ stands for,” he paused, “...although I already have my own answer. I think it stands for the ‘Incredible Dairy Assistant.’”