High tech solutions for precision livestock farming

Time is undoubtedly money and a range of new products have recently entered the market aimed at improving livestock performance through automated monitoring leading to maximised efficiency and profitability.
RASE’s Precision Dairy Event, Gloucestershire showcased the latest advances in precision livestock farming technology, demonstrating to dairy farmers how attention to detail really can make a big difference.

Cow tracker

What is the product and who is it marketed at?

CowView is an intelligent real time dairy herd monitoring system boasting mobile management designed for use with large indoor herds. Sensors are set up to record the location of every cow in the building and the server updates every second.

What are the benefits?

It allows farmers to use their time more efficiently by monitoring cow standing time, frequency and time spent in cubicles, time walking, how far and how fast, frequency of visits and time spent at the feed table. 

This information can be used to assist with heat detection and for early warning of health risks. If an animal’s behaviour changes it will be put onto an at risk list and alert the farmer.

What are the costs?

£150 a cow for the system and collar in large herds, prices increase as herd size decreases. Collar battery life is eight to 10 years and the system is infinitely upgradeable. 

Farmers should see a four to five year return on their investment if all features are used. For more information on CowView visit www.gea-farmtechnologies.com.

Rumen pH Bolus

What is the product and who is it marketed at?

The farmBolus measures real time pH and temperature data from inside the reticulo-rumen of the animal every minute.  Data can be downloaded on to a handheld tablet computer and sent off for analysis.

Boluses should be put into three or four average cows in each cow group. It is most useful for monitoring cows in the transition period with 11 commercial herds currently using them.

What are the benefits?

It gives farmers an insight into feeding and drinking patterns. It can provide vets and nutritionists information to better diagnose sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA) and adjust the ration for optimal rumen function.

This can lead to improvements in milk yield and animal health.

What are the costs?

The handheld tablet costs £700 and each bolus costs £450, but they are typically sold in multiples of six with a proven battery life of five months.

A nine month payback period has been suggested.  For more information go to http://www.ecow.co.uk/.

Smart phones for cows

What are the products and who are they marketed at?

San’Phone, Vel’Phone and HeatPhone are three new devices that detect temperature, calving and oestrus respectively.  All require a GSM radio base to collect the data.
ThermoBolus measures the reticulo-rumen temperature every five minutes to within 0.5C accuracy, with the San’Phone analysing and alerting the farmer of any abnormal changes in temperature.

A vaginal canal thermometer monitors the temperature, imminence of calving and the breaking of waters, which the Vel’Phone communicates to the farmer via SMS.

An Axel sensor placed on the cows collar records parameters of its activity every five minutes, which the HeatPhone analyses to detect signs of oestrus. A SMS message allows the farmer to get closer to the animal sooner to plan for optimal insemination.

What are the benefits?

All devices are designed to keep farmers informed and alert them to any changes to allow prompt or timely action to be taken.

The San’Phone will help detect first signs of health disorders to allow farmers to improve herd health and reduce production losses and culling.

The Vel’Phone allows farmers to remotely monitor calving and intervene at the optimal time, improving stock breeding results and lowering complications after each birth.

The HeatPhone improves herd productivity by optimising fertility and lowering calving interval.

What are the costs?

The GSM radio costs £2,500 and the devices are about £70-£80 each.  The vaginal calving aid is re-useable and the bolus has a six to seven year battery life. 

There is a monthly GSM charge of £10, which includes the cost of the server installation.  For more information visit http://www.synergyfarmhealth.com/ and http://www.medria.fr/.