O’Donnell debuts automatic cow drafting system

County Tipperary manufacturer O’Donnell Engineering has unveiled a cattle drafting system that is able to automatically direct particular cows to separate holding pens after milking.

The box-section-built, fully galvanised drafter comes as a standalone unit and can be configured to provide two- or three-way separation ready for jobs such as AI, hoof-trimming, medication or buffer feeding.

O’Donnell’s system uses two sets of antennas to identify individual animals while they walk at their normal pace, avoiding the slow process of stopping and scanning each animal’s tags. It means the drafting unit doesn’t require a large holding pen, the system can be run in a fairly confined area and it should minimise cow stress, too.

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Controls are via a rugged Samsung tablet that is mounted in the milking pit, which is included as part of the package. The tablet communicates with the drafter via a wi-fi link, although the gates can also be controlled by any other wi-fi enabled device.

Prior to milking the farmer can browse the long list of cows and select which animals to divert. The drafter will also inform the farmer if an animal hasn’t been seen or if there is an issue with the machine.

The unit requires a source of power and compressed air, although there is also a manual operation in case of any problems, and the cows must all have a standard HDX electronic identification ear tag.

The cost is set at €8,500 (£7,250) for a two-way arrangement and €9,250 (£7,900) for the three-way version.

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