Arla will trial automated 3D imagery systems on several of its UK farms, as the company aims to speed up the identification of animal welfare issues in order to improve the wellbeing of cows on Arla farms.
Called Herdvision, the 3D imagery system has been developed by dairy consultancy Kingshay, who worked in partnership with the Centre for Machine Vision in the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England and AgsenZe to develop the technology.
According to Arla, the system replaces measurements that currently have to be made subjectively by the human eye, and instead uses visual monitoring, data recording and automated intelligence to assist in managing cow welfare.
This system would speed up the process of identifying changes to the physical wellbeing, mobility and weight of dairy cows before they are visible to the naked eye.
While there are already other scanning technologies on the market, Arla claims that the main benefit of the new Herdvision technology is that the system doesn’t require the cow to stand still, meaning it is easier to use and gives much greater accuracy in the results.
The Herdvision scanner is currently being trialled on ten Arla UK 360 farms, and the trial will continue “until an evidence-based decision can be made about the proven benefits of this type of technology.”
Duncan Forbes, dairy research director of Kingshay said: “Much like humans reacting differently if we know there is a camera filming us, cows do the same.
“Studies show that cows behave differently if they think they are being watched, affecting the way they walk or move. It is ingrained primitive behaviour not to show weakness and even though cows have been domesticated for thousands of years, the mindset of best foot forward still seems prevalent in today’s animals.
“Overcoming that issue, and with artificial intelligence built into the system, this system will measure and identify changes to cow health based on each individual cow’s own health record.”
Graham Wilkinson, agricultural director of Arla Foods added: “Arla farmers are already in tune with the wellbeing of their cows, but digital advances in farming bring the opportunity to revolutionise cow health management.
“When we launched Arla UK 360 we set out a vision to bring together physical and behavioural wellbeing monitoring to create the Happy Cow measure. The Herdvision technology could be a gamechanger in automating the measurement of the physical components to deliver this.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019