If you think precision farming (whether livestock or arable) is just a bunch gadgets and gizzmos, think again. Precision arable techniques, such as variable rate application of crop inputs, are now generally accepted as mainstream and are proven to enhance the financial bottom line. As mentioned in a previous blog, the use of precision tools like heat detection systems in dairy farming are becoming more commonplace.
As another example, the same technology that is used to detect cows coming into oestrus can be combined with a miniature microphone to detect and record cow rumination rates – a useful gauge of cow health and welfare. Any fall in rumination rate for an individual will be flagged up for the herd manager in the farm software so that animal can be thoroughly checked.
New technologies are rapidly being applied at research level, which should result in new commercial products becoming available to livestock farmers. For example, research at Writtle College is using motion analysis technology from sport and equine science with the objective of developing a lameness detection system. The major benefit here would come from the system being able to analyse the subtleties of individual animal movements over time, and flag up problem cows early – before they are showing visible signs of lameness (by which time the disease is usually quite advanced and productivity impaired).
In our opinion, the continued rapid emergence of new technologies coupled with innovative research, will produce many more benefits for livestock farming over the coming years.
Of course, many of these new livestock systems will produce increased volumes of data, and the only way to turn this data deluge into useful management information is to create software that can perform the analysis and interpretation. On that front, Orchid is actively working to develop it’s innovative cloud-based software with precision livestock farming firmly in mind. Watch this space!