• Farm Name: Fantail Farms
  • System: 2-3
  • Breeds: Friesian
  • Production: 510 MS/cow
  • 6-week in-calf rate: 76%
  • Time with CowManager: 18 months with two AB systems


Keren and Paul Leslie are thirdgeneration farmers on their farm in Reporoa and have been using CowManager to help reduce stress and workload on the farm. The 180-Hectare, 510-cow farm has been in the family since the 1940s, and Keren and Paul are in their 18th season. “We’ve got three beautiful children who help out in ways on the farm, and we’d like to leave something where they feel there’s a sense of enjoyment to come back to,” Paul said 

Mastering the balancing act of life and work 

Balancing work with his personal life has now become a priority for Paul. After some staff left, his workload was increasing, and farming was taking away from time with his family, leaving his wife to do most of the parenting duties.

“I think about all those years my daughters were doing ballet. I never got to see any of it. I wasn’t there to say well done. And you know, it wasn’t a good mindset to be in when you realised you felt jealous of your wife, being able to be part of all those things.”

Keren agreed that something had to change, so when they heard of another farmer nearby who had CowManager, they did a little research and jumped straight in.

A cow on the Leslie farm with a CowManager ear sensor

The appeal of the sensor 

They had known about different cow monitoring systems and had considered collars but ultimately decided they weren’t a good fit for their farm. “I had heard from a friend down south with collars that he lost several. That didn’t sound too right. You still lose one or two sensors; that’s natural,” Paul said. He commented on how they believe losing a small tag is better than a collar getting stuck or banging up against things.

Both Paul and Keren agreed that the priority would be finding a system with the most accurate data and using a company aligned with their values. The non-invasive design of CowManager ear sensors was just a bonus. “It’s just an ear tag, we put those in anyway, and it’s what the cows are used to,” Keren commented.

“It’s not the same calibre as an EID tag, it lasts a lot longer,” Paul said. “I did do a little research into CowManager’s origins and what they were trying to achieve, and it wasn’t too dissimilar to what I’m trying to achieve,” he added.

An overhead shot of the Leslie farm and herd with CowManagerAccuracy at the heart of every decision 

With their choice of monitoring systems made, they started collecting data. They installed CowManager, and come the next mating, they had about four to five months of data and two months of milking data on each cow. “We had no reason to not trust the data,” Paul said.

A big draw for the Leslies was the ability to measure ear temperature. CowManager sends alerts when a cow’s temperature changes compared to her average or the herd average. “You think, how on earth can the ear tell temperature? But it does, and there’s a lot of bearing on that,” Paul said.

Now equipped with over 16 months of data, the Leslies have become incredibly confident using the system and the provided information. “The accuracy of the data is awesome, it’s evolving that quickly, and CowManager is always making improvements,” Paul said.

Keren could see Paul’s confidence grow in using the data. “He can marry up what’s happening on the screen and what’s happening in real life quite well,” she said.

“The beauty of CowManager is that it’s a piece of technology that adds significant value. You don’t know how well you do things until you have a bit of technology to compare your decisions to,” Paul added.

Keren Leslie petting a cow in the herd

Healthy happy cows = healthy happy farmer 

Using the CowManager data alongside his farming knowledge, Paul and Keren have seen improvements in their herd’s health.

They understand the importance of managing down cows quickly so they can get back on their feet and have used CowManager’s alerts to stay on top of the issue. “Getting to a cow that was suspicious because she might be starting to get wobbly, addressing her issues before she even went down and having a sure-footed animal walking into the shed the next morning was absolute gold,” Paul said.

Originally installing the system to help with fertility and mating, the Leslies found the alerts helpful in other areas too. “You put in a product for one particular benefit. It’s one of those side benefits, actually knowing when a cow has stopped eating, or moving, and it’s picking her up as being suspicious,” Paul said.

Knowing that CowManager was monitoring herd health, the Leslies were able to start focusing on their own physical and mental well-being.

“In trusting the technology, you’re going easy on your body too because tail painting was tiring,” Keren said. She said Paul, like many farmers, was having challenges with his physical health due to farming and that not having to do things like tail painting had reduced issues like back pain. “Your health is just as important as the cow’s health, and it was so much easier on the body. He was a happier and stress-free farmer. It was good,” she added.

Having CowManager has allowed Paul to spend time away from the farm and switch off. He can be more present with his family, knowing that alerts will come through to his phone if a cow is not well, and mating season is less stressful after integrating the drafting gate.

“I don’t wear a watch. The time is less important unless it’s to get the kids to some particular event. They’ll remember that mum and dad were part of that journey,” Paul said.

A cow at the Leslie farm with a CowManager ear tagMating made easy  

Having the Fertility Module meant the Leslies had a very different mating to the usual stress-filled weeks they were used to. Paul does all the AI himself, so accurate heat detection is extremely important to him.

Using CowManager to detect heats did make him second-guess himself at times when he was certain a cow wasn’t in heat, but the system said she was. He said that only gave him more confidence in using the data. “I started to think, how many heats over the course of a year do you actually miss?”

“He’s religiously a tail painter,” Keren said.

“I touched it up night and morning, so I was constantly jumping up and down, not focusing on the actual milking,” Paul added.

After day two of mating, Paul and Keren decided it would be more beneficial for their herd to trust CowManager for monitoring heats so they could focus on other aspects of animal care. For the rest of mating, they let the technology do its thing.

Using the data alongside his farming experience showed the most success. Paul said you need to apply some management to the data and use it as a tool. “A small bit of management and basic stockmanship on a cow goes a long way, and if one cow gets put up that shouldn’t have been, that’s better than the constant number of cows that are missed.”

“In terms of heat, it’s the trust in the data. I think that’s the biggest transition in the thought process you’ve got to undertake. You have to trust the data in front of you,” Paul said.

Installing an Easy Dairy automatic drafting gate was the next step to help streamline the whole mating process. According to Paul, “in terms of getting it set up, it was a matter of hours. The proof is right from day one; it’s picked the cows out. It’s an incredibly accurate gate with a seamless installation. I’d never go back. Why would I?”

Dogs at the Leslie farmWorking with Senztag and CowManager

CowMananger and Senztag focus on getting the right results for farmers and their animals. It’s not one size fits all, and each farmer and farm deserve a personalised approach.

“The sense of compassion behind what they’re assisting you with, any time, and the work effort is phenomenal. My son and I went to a rugby game, and Jared (Senztag National Manager) was there. He remembered who I was, and I was quickly trying to think who he was. There’s only one of him, but that says a lot about the kind of business it is.”

Paul and Keren are clear on one thing: the CowManager system and Easy Dairy automatic drafting gates aren’t going anywhere.

“If this business here is driven by my wife and I, were we going to be doing this in ten years? That’s the key thing I couldn’t get past. Now, the data is accurate, the system is tight. Why would I ever go back?”


Call Now ButtonContact Now