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How to Monitor Your Animals During Foaling & Lambing Season
It may seem dark and cold outside, but Spring is definitely on its way (or so we are told…), and for farmers this will always be tied in with the stress and reward of birthing season. As we have already touched on, there are a vast number of things to remember during the season. One of the most important points however, is to make sure you monitor your animals during Foaling or Lambing. Birthing animals should really be checked as often as possible, but obviously on a busy farm this has practical limitations. Because of this there are a host of devices on the market to help farmers anticipate the big event. But how do these systems work, and what are the benefits of each one? This is a quick rundown of some of the options out there- there’s really no reason why you should limit yourself to one of these methods, as they can all complement each other to give you a fuller picture.
- Mare Milk Testing Kits– For foaling, there are several kits on the market that provide an estimate of when Mare is expecting by using a test strip to check the hormone levels in their milk. Whilst this does not indicate a Mare is actually in Labour, the makers claim it can provide a warning that it is imminent within 12 hours. This time window will let you move the Mare to a separate pen if needs be.
- Perspiration Sensors– These devices can be strapped to a Mare’s neck in order to measure the sweat on their skin. When the horse enters labour the exertion will cause it to perspire and trigger the alarm. These then connect via wireless to a base unit in your home, similar to a baby monitor. This type of alarm can also help to monitor horses suffering from specific medical conditions, such as Colic.
- G meters/Tilt Sensors– Working in a similar way to perspiration sensors, and sometimes even combined in the same device, these record the position of the horse throughout the day, and trigger if it lies down in a position indicative of labour. Whilst they can be triggered accidentally, the best alarms compare this with information gathered over the previous days to indicate if it is abnormal.
- Wireless CCTV– Whilst other monitors can alert you if something changes, only a long range wireless CCTV system with audio can give you an idea of what is going on live in the barn. When looking for a suitable system there are some important things to check. Make sure for example that the wireless range is enough to cover the distance. Manufacturers will quote an ‘unobstructed range’ that will not take into account trees or walls. The best systems use cameras with external transmitters, providing much longer range and better weather resistance. Also make sure the system uses the 2.4GHz frequency range. Some unscrupulous sellers still offer 1.2GHz products which are banned for use by OFCOM.