Frequently Asked Questions/references
does the system work?
A small, digital radio transmitter is placed in
a piece of polyester material (we call it a “patch”)
and glued onto the tailhead of each cow you want
to catch in heat. When she enters heat, herd mates
will start to mount her. Every time there’s a mount,
data is sent from that particular transmitter to
a small radio receiver called a ”base station” placed
in the proximity of the heat detection area. The
information is then sent wirelessly from the base
station to your computer by way of a network adapter.
Data that is generated on every mount includes the
cow mounted, date and time of the mount, and duration
(in seconds) of each mount. The software is looking
for mounting criteria known to be indicative of
true estrus. Information can then be relayed back
each cow’s transmitter.
far will a transmitter transmit?
The technical specification is 1/3 of a mile. In
many circumstances, transmission distance can be
substantially increased by putting the base station
higher. In certain circumstances, the distance may
be reduced depending on certain obstacles (hills,
trees in full leaf) being present. HeatWatch repeaters
can be used to maximize required distance. Repeaters
can send signals over 4 miles.
hills going to be a problem?
Maybe. At some point during the day, we need line
of sight from the cows to the base station. The
transmitter will actually store a limited number
of mounts for transmission at a later time. However
if cattle are not in the proximity off the base
station for extended periods of time, a repeater
will most likely be necessary.
long will the patches stay on?
Patch longevity is a function of a number of things,
including, but not limited to, number of mounts,
heat and humidity, age of the glue, shape of the
tailhead, amount and condition of the hair, time
of the year, breed of cow, efficiency of the applicator,
and maintenance schedule. In general, under normal
circumstances, you can expect about 30 days on a
dairy cow and about 50 mounts on a beef cow before
serious maintenance is needed.
much does it cost?
Please refer to the enclose Order Form section.
quickly will a system pay for itself?
Rarely does it take longer than 2 years for a system
to pay for itself. If you’re in the dairy business
and have a heat detection rate typical of the national
average, your accuracy rate is about 40-50 percent.
Because HeatWatch II not only detects all standing
mounts, but calculates the best time to breed your
cows, your heat detection and conception rates will
raise substantially. On a dairy, the reduction in
days open will be dramatic and the system would
be paid for in about one year. If you want a more
accurate analysis on your payback period, CowChips
can provide you with an in-depth cost benefit analysis.
If you have a beef operation, estimate a minimum
of about 15-20 percent more AI calves on the ground.
Calculate the average price of an AI calf over a
bull bred calf and determine the payback time.
the signals go through buildings?
Transmitter signals can pass through certain materials
such as cinder block, brick, wood, and drywall,
but will not pass through metal walls. However,
radio signals can be reflected by metal and caught
by the base station. If there are a lot of metal
structures in the heat detection area, an RF site
survey should be conducted by a qualified HeatWatch
II technician prior to installation.
frequency does it operate on?
HeatWatch II transmitters broadcast on a series
of frequencies in the 900MgHz range.
this frequency interfere with anything on my farm
or will anything interfere with it?
It’s unlikely that anything will interfere with
HeatWatch II data transmissions given the technology
we’ve built into the system to avoid this problem.
However, it is not impossible. The most likely interference
will be from a cellular tower, radio tower, or high
tension power lines in the proximity of your farm.
do I know when a transmitter isn’t working?
There is a fail safe system built into the transmitters
to let you constantly know their status. Each transmitter
activates itself and checks in with the computer
every hour. If a transmitter fails to check in,
the software will inform you which one is not working.
it work on my computer?
A standard PC with a Pentium on upr, Windows 95
thru Vista, 10MB on the hard drive, and an available
USB port are required to run the software. A CowChips
technical service representative will work with
you to make sure your computer is fully compatible
with the HeatWatch II system.
pasture is quite away from my house. How can I get
Several ways. A hard wired, short haul modem can
be used to directly connect your system in the pasture
to your computer at the house. The maximum distance
in this case is about 1 mile. Or, a portable HeatWatch
II system can be put in that pasture and can be
powered by either 110 or a 12-volt car battery.
In that case you can get the data by taking a laptop
to the pasture and downloading it..
For distances up to five or six miles,
HeatWatch repeaters can be used as long as there
is line of sight between the base station and the
repeater. For greater distances, telephone modems
can be used if there are phone lines available in
the heat detection area. CowChips is working on
incorporating cellular modem technology into the
portable unit so that as long as cellular service
is available in a given area, HeatWatch II data
can be downloaded by way of a cellular link.
long do transmitters last?
HeatWatch transmitters are powered by a 3-volt,
single cell lithium battery that can be easily changed..
Most dairies get 2 years of use. Most single season
beef breeders get 3 years.
do I find a transmitter if it falls off a cow?
Obviously this can be difficult. HeatWatch II transmitter
has an LED that can be instructed to blink off and
on. They’re relatively easy to find after dark.
need a gomer bull in my herd?
A couple of studies have been done over the past
couple of years comparing the effect of a gomer
in a group of females Vs just females. The results
show that mounting activity and estrus expression
may start a little sooner with the bull than without,
but there is no significant benefit with the bull
in terms of identifying estrus and onsets.
is the best time to AI a cow?
According to the classic time to insemination study
recently completed by Dr. Ray Nebel at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute, the best time to breed a
dairy cow is 4-14 hours after the onset of heat.
We have a copy of the study that we can send to
you. Research projects being done on beef herds
are showing that the window may be a little further
out for beef cows (8-18 hours).
this technology be obsolete in a couple of years?
The technology will not be obsolete as much as it
may be dated in comparison to newer technology within
a few years. CowChips holds very strong patent positions
on this technology, so if improvements are to be
made, we will be the one making them. Anytime in
the past we have introduced improved technology,
we have always offered, and will continue to offer,
a very generous trade-up program.
much will this improve my conception rates? Is that
Keep in mind that there are four basics parts to
improving AI conception rates: using quality semen
that has been stored and handled correctly; having
an inseminator that understands what he’s doing;
having a healthy, nutritionally sound herd; and
having a good heat detection program. In general,
most breeders feel that the first three aspects
are usually manageable and the real challenge will
be in accurately and efficiently detecting heat.
All this being said, if you know current average
conception rate, we can predict what your improvement
in those rates are likely to be.
doesn’t perform like you say it will, will you buy
If we cannot get the system to work, you are certainly
under no obligation to keep it. It’s important that
you have a comfort level with HeatWatch II prior
to buying it. We will be happy to refer you to breeders
in your area that have used it so they can share
their experiences with you. We will also refer you
to several researchers so they can relate their
results with you. In addition, we have in-house
resources to assist you in getting maximum results
from your system. If you are using HeatWatch correctly
and not seeing reproductive improvements when there
should be, these resources will help you to isolate
the specific problems (in addition to heat detection)
that need to be addressed.
I get a higher conception rate if I don’t synchronize
my cows and just breed on natural heats?
Many breeders (especially beef breeders) feel that
they get a better conception rate off of natural
heats as opposed to induced heats. However, there’s
no research-based evidence that we’re aware of that
states this as being true. You may want to check
with your vet on this issue. Or we would be happy
to refer you to several HeatWatch users that have
opinions on both sides.
synchronization protocol do you recommend?
There are numerous treatment options that can be
used to synchronize estrus in cows or heifers. The
treatment of choice depends on several factors,
including cost, facilities, cyclicity of the cattle,
breeding plan and professional preferences. Your
expectations plus input from your vet, AI rep and
Extensions Agents should be used to choose the synchronization
program that is most appropriate for your situation.
If you would like an overview of synchronization
products and their use we have one available.
long will a battery powering a repeater last?
It depends on the battery and the amount of data
the repeater transmits. If you are using a good
quality, fully charged, deep cycle marine battery,
you can expect at least 45 days. The software will
inform you when the repeater is not working. However,
it’s best that you have a small, digital multimeter
(about $20 at Radio Shack) at your disposal to test
the battery each week so you will know in advance
when the charge is getting low.
weather or temperature affect the glue?
Weather and temperature can affect the performance
of the pre-glued HeatWatch II patch. Cold temperatures
prevent the glue from adhering correctly. To solve
this, make sure that you keep the patches warm prior
to using it. If you are putting a lot of patches
on during cold weather, keep the patches in a calf
warmer or other warm place. The glue will work well
in cold weather as long as it is applied warm. For
hot weather tips, talk to your CowChips’ representative.
.In general you should experience very few weather
or temperature related problems.