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Like a Fitbit, but for a cow....Lunemann works with new technology

by Karin L. Nauber

Pat Lunemann, the owner of Twin Eagle Dairy in Clarissa, has been taking care of cows for most of his life.

He started out as the co-owner of Twin Eagle Dairy and later became sole owner with his family.

Twin Eagle Dairy has been around since 1979 and a lot has changed since then.

Lunemann has embraced many technological changes over the years to make the dairy operation run smoother.

The farm currently has a cow herd of 850 with 750 actually being milked at any given time.

In October of 2019, Lunemann began using a newer technology which tracks the activity and rumination of the herd including the yearlings who are at breeding age.

At first, the employees were skeptical about how it could help them do a better job.

“Now, if we have a power failure and the system is down, everyone is lost without it,” he shared.

“The monitors are very similar to the Fitbits that some of us humans have to track our own behavior each day. The version we use on our animals is attached to the ear,” said Lunemann.

As the cows eat, drink, walk, and rest throughout the day and night, signals are sent to an antenna which relays the information to a computer in the office, Lunemann shared.

“That computer has software that tracks the algorithms of each animal and flags anything outside of normal [for that cow] for us to review,” he said.

For the Twin Eagle Dairy crew that boils down to two key areas of concern:

1. Is the cow sick or needing attention?

2. Is she in heat and needs to be on the artificial insemination (AI) list that day (for breeding purposes)?

According to Lunemann, “a sick cow will be very dull and lethargic, and a cow in heat will generally be very busy looking for a mate. . . .

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