Artificial intelligence is key to dairy herd health monitoring system – The Irish Times

There is a lot to do on most farms, especially on dairy herds where the health and physical condition of the animals is paramount. Vigilant monitoring takes time, however, and with ongoing labor shortages, farmers are increasingly turning to technology for help. However, for the technology to unburden them, it must be easy to use, and that was Cormac McHugh’s number one goal when he founded Dairy Robotics to create a plug-and-play herd health monitoring system that could be up and running in minutes hours

“The current manual method of assessing a herd is time-consuming and often provides inconsistent results,” says McHugh. “Our unique system, which monitors both the animal’s mobility score and body condition, is automatic and consistent. We need healthier, higher performing animals and Dairy Robotics can help farmers achieve this by detecting potential health problems early on. Early detection means optimal milk production can be maintained, it ensures better reproductive outcomes and also reduces emissions through increased efficiency.

“Our unit can be integrated into any operation with no special requirements,” adds McHugh. “As cows walk by, our reader identifies each animal’s unique ear tag. This will start recording a video stream in both 2D and 3D. After initial processing, the video streams are sent to the cloud for further processing in near real time by our artificial intelligence algorithms. The animal’s grades and recommendations for action are then reported back to the farmer via our app or his existing farm management system. Our app has a database of the whole herd and provides trends and feedback on the health of individual animals or the general herd.”

READ :  AI Wildfire Detection Bill Receives First Approval in Colorado

McHugh has a technical background and has a number of animal health/management products in the pipeline, with research and development around these continuing over the years. The monitoring system is the first product to hit the market after an intense 12 months of development, and McHugh has personally footed the approximately €400,000 R&D bill to date. The product is currently in a pilot phase with a number of farms and the company is preparing a €1 million funding round to complete the development and bring it to market around the middle of this year. McHugh is also open to the idea of ​​working with an experienced player in the dairy sector to accelerate the product’s journey to market.

“Global food production is facing major challenges,” he says. “For example, how will we feed the growing world population while reducing CO2 emissions? How can we improve animal health and welfare when fewer people are willing to work on farms? All of these are problems that need solutions, and technology like ours is one of the ways forward. We haven’t even started yet and there has already been a lot of interest in what we do from around the world from individual dairy farmers, potential traders and even national dairy associations.”

McHugh points out that another advantage of the Dairy Robotics system is that it is effectively a self-learning device, constantly taking in data and “learning” as it goes. The more it learns, the more accurate it becomes. This allows the company to build up a growing number of datasets that may be country or cow breed specific. “With this information, we can offer the farmer more accuracy and more options for action if the system indicates a problem. For example, adjusting feed rations or timely veterinary interventions,” says McHugh.

READ :  Artificial intelligence could improve medical practice - but only if used properly

Dairy Robotics recently participated in UCD’s AgTech, an accelerator program for early-stage agtech and agrifood startups with global potential, and the company currently has three employees with more to come. Customers pay upfront for the hardware, which is based around an Intel camera, and after that the recurring revenue model will be Software as a Service.