I volunteer at a nearby horse farm a couple days a week, helping with grooming, exercising and cleaning stalls.  I didn’t grow up around horses, but volunteered with therapeutic riding in New York one year, and loved it!  As it happens, this farm (which houses nearly 60 horses) also provides therapeutic riding, and if you’ve never watched a kid with disabilities feel “free” when they’re on the back of horse, you’re truly missing something!

Now horses, mind you, are a completely different beast than a dairy cow, and that I found out very quickly during my equine experiences.  I feel like I’ve spent enough time around them to be fairly confident of my handling abilities, but there’s something about their unpredictability that still makes me a bit nervous.  Case in point, the other day when I was bringing two horses out to a pasture in the back, as I opened the gate to bring them in, one horse balked and started dancing around.  I slightly panicked as I was between the other horse and the gate.  Magically, out of nowhere, a strong set of hands took the reins of the balking horse and helped steady the gate.  Crisis averted.  Those hands belong to Scotty, who is a 20-something young adult with autism, and he’s non-verbal.  Yes, I felt like I could have controlled the situation, but Scotty is always there in the barn, ready to lend a hand to all of us, and on that day, in the back pasture, I didn’t realize how much I relied on him to ‘have my back.’

Sometimes we don’t think we need to have a back-up plan, until we REALLY need it.  Certainly with today’s milk prices, we certainly don’t want to PAY for a back-up plan, and I can very much appreciate that.  But what if the back-up was actually something that MADE you money?  And what if that back-up was as steady as Scotty is at the stables every day?  And what if you knew you didn’t totally need the back-up, but there does come a day when you breathe a sigh of relief that it was there?

CowManager has been on the market for a number of years, and the Select Sires family of member-cooperatives is grateful to be the exclusive dealer for CowManager systems in North America.  When first introduced to dairies in this country, the big selling point for CowManager was that it would catch cows in heat and with the average size of western dairies being what they are, who doesn’t want that?  Early systems were installed, technical bugs were worked out, and the new and improved models work better than ever!


Today’s systems seem to sell on another module of CowManager, the health component.  With the CowManager eartags, animals that don’t show visible signs of being sick are detected, and you are alerted to that with a daily list of cows to check because of this.  Imagine being able to find and treat a sick cow DAYS before she shows signs of being ill.  And as we know too well, there are occasions that when they do show a visible sign of being sick, it’s too late.  Over and over again we hear customers raving about the health module.


Joseph Martin and Charlie De Groot of John De Groot & Son Dairy

“Too often, we rely on our milkers to identify sick cows. CowManager does that for us! It’s another set of eyes on the dairy.” – Charlie De Groot, John De Groot & Son Dairy, Fresno, CA

Left to right: Faith Palmer, John Palmer and Meghan Palmer

“CowManager is an invaluable tool for our dairy.”  During the long, cold upper-Midwest winter of 2017-2018, the Palmer Family was challenged with a spread of pneumonia in their milking cows, caused by the Pasteurella multocida bacteria, which is very contagious and deadly. “For this issue, the temp alerts available with CowManager were critical in the diagnosis of cows that needed treatment and was as important to us as the rumination data. The system helped limit the herd damage by identifying sick cows before we could have by simply doing a walk through” explains Dr. David Gibbs, veterinarian at Prairie Star Farm.

You’ll be hearing more CowManager stories throughout the fall, and be sure to watch for some CowManager Open Houses throughout All West territory in the coming months.  We truly believe this system pays for itself.  If you’re still not convinced, you can WIN a trial-sized 50-cow system by entering the CowManager give-away before November 1, 2018.  Visit www.cowmanager/win for more details.

You don’t always need an “extra set of eyes” on the dairy, just like I don’t always need help putting horses out on pasture.  But after volunteering at this farm for over six months, I do have more peace of mind knowing that Scotty is around to catch things that I can’t and make things run smoothly.  Sounds almost like the CowManager system!

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