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Project to improve dairy cow welfare monitoring

Posted 3 September 2014

Researchers at Harper Adams University are contributing expertise to a project that aims to improve dairy cow health and welfare through the use of sensor technology.

The collaborative project, known as DASIE (Dairy Animal Sensor Integrated Engineering), has been co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency – Innovate UK, and is led by IceRobotics Ltd in association with Harper Adams, Dairy Crest and Kingshay.

The project will focus on data and farm system integration, as well as the development of dedicated sensor technology which will enable dairy farmers to improve cattle health and welfare through continuous monitoring of  animal behaviour.

Swift action to address health problems such as lameness and mastitis can then take place before the situation becomes more serious and more costly.

Reader in Applied Animal Behaviour at Harper Adams, Dr Mark Rutter, said: “It’s great to have established this cross sector collaboration, with each partner bringing different skills and experience.

“We’re all focused on ensuring that we develop innovative and user-friendly systems, with technology that is reliable and accurate wherever the cows are on the farm.”

The new system will be designed to be integrated with existing farm systems and equipment, such as milk meters and feed dispensers.

Robert Boyce of dairy data systems manufacturer, IceRobotics Ltd, said: “This is a ground-breaking collaboration which brings together industry-leading dairy players to help farmers use technology to manage their businesses more efficiently whilst also improving animal welfare.

“We’re looking at how providing reliable and robust technology, that integrates with a farm’s existing systems and practices, can lead to valuable management information. This can drive timely action by farm staff, thereby dramatically improving farm profitability and animal welfare.”

Harper Adams is hosting a Precision Livestock Farming Conference on Monday, September 8. The event will cover the major livestock industries as well as looking at the wider benefits precision livestock farming can bring to the agri-food supply chain.

Keynote speakers include Harper Adams’ Dr Mark Rutter; Head of Product Development and Technology for Fresh Foods at Sainsbury’s, Beth Hart; Director of XL Vets, David Black; Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Animal Welfare, Royal Veterinary College, Dr Theo Demmers; CEO of IAgrE, Alastair Taylor; and Douglas Bomford Chair in Agricultural Mechanisation at the Royal Agricultural University, Toby Mottram.

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