The simple act of feeding and caring for a cow harks back to a bygone era at the dawn of the agricultural revolution. And yet modern dairy farming is constantly searching for new innovations. Keeping the cows happy and healthy is important in dairy farming and efforts to raise the bar in milk production efficiency require farms to know how much an individual cow eats, how much she drinks, how much she moves, her body temperature and stress levels so as to correctly judge farm profitability. Technology has been the main driving force in bridging the intelligence and efficiency gap although it may not seem apparent but new technologies involving sensors and big data analytics are making farms approach light speed efficiency in how they operate.
Here are a few of the latest technologies that are beginning to transform dairy farming.
Smart Collars for Cows
Imagine a Fitbit for your beloved cattle. Then stop imagining and say hello to the cow collar. Yes, the wearable technology trend has come to the farmyard. And with cow collars you can gather a huge amount of data on the health, habits and happiness of your herd. A Dutch company has developed technology to follow the movements and activities of cows. The high-tech system, powered by AI and motion sensors, is called "The Intelligent Dairy Farmer's Assistant." The company, Connecterra, launched the system in the United States in December 2017 after several years of testing and operations in Europe.
Information such as steps per day and rumination is collected and sent to a portal that you can access from anywhere via laptop or smartphone. You can also share any abnormal data with your vet, making it easier to detect illness and resolve it faster.
If you believe all cows look the same more or less, you might want to read on. Cows in some districts of Punjab are currently part of an intriguing project that involves machine learning telling one cow apart from the other. Every cow and buffalo are distinguishable as agritech startup Mooofarm, the brains behind the algorithm, claims to have 95% accuracy in distinguishing one from the other. The algorithm only requires pictures of each cow or buffalo from different angles, backgrounds and light.
Founded in 2017, Mooofarm is an agritech firm dedicated to finding technical solutions for dairy farmers by helping them keep their cattle healthy and increase their income by improving the milk quality. The startup has built a digital ecosystem of cattle through its mobile app that leverages data analytics to provide farm and cattle management solutions to dairy farmers such as digitizing the life cycle of their cattle, connecting them to input suppliers for.
Cows don't like change. Yep, for cow-kind it's consistency that goes down best. That's just one of the reasons robotic milking technology is beginning to take off.
Robotic milking has been commercially available since the early nineties. Yet thanks to dramatic improvements in the technology and the compelling prospect of enhanced milk yields, more and more farmers are making the switch to robots. Thanks to special sensors - or collars like those mentioned above - farmers can collect all kinds of data on each cow's health, production levels and milking frequency. The robots can even collect data on milk quality, fat content and white blood cell count - diverting milk to a separate container for calf consumption if it's not suitable for humans.
Car Wash for Cows?
Ah, that's the spot. So says the cow who just sidled alongside the swinging brush. Four million cows around the world are getting groomed on demand thanks to this spruce piece of tech, the movements and brushes of which cover all angles of the their body.
Used for almost a decade. This is a simple rotating brush similar to one used in a carwash but made specifically to match the contours of a cow's body. The brush begins rotating when a cow makes contact with it - and stops when they walk away. In an effort to boost cow's comfort, research shows the rotating cow brush aid blood circulation which in turn improves milk production and child birth
Smart technology and data play important roles on modern dairy farms. And while these new tools of the trade are helping to optimize the production of milk and meat, technology is also meant to help dairy farmers fulfill another purpose: improve the well-being of their cows.