The application of automation is a growing trend in the dairy industry. Originally, automatic systems in dairy farms were mainly used for feeding cows and milking them. But with evolving trends, such systems have gone much beyond these routine tasks and incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance the productivity of the dairy farm. Let’s understand the role of automation in different farm activities in details.
Automated Concentrate Feeding Systems
For optimal milk production, dairy farm owners have to ensure cows are fed as per their individual energy requirements. The automated feeder simultaneously mixes different concentrates in the feed. The proportion of each concentrate in the feed and its delivery is controlled by software that takes into account various factors like stage of lactation, milk production and eating speed of the cow.
Automated Milking System
Unlike other automated systems in a dairy farm, the automated milking system is a fine example of successful interaction between a robotic system and a living creature (cow in this case). The fully automated milking system includes a milking stall, a teat location system, a teat-cup attachment system, and a milking system. The milking procedure of cows begins in a special selection area. The system follows a modern selection and segregation method based on the weight of the cows. The Segregation system is an integral part of AMS that has different functions like selecting cows for medical inspection (for health reasons) and ensuring that the cows that are already milked do not return to milking station.
Futuristic Technical Advancements on the Farm
Now that we’ve taken a sneak peek into the routine farming processes that have evolved with technology let’s cast a glance at how AI and machine learning are further shaping the future of dairy farms.
- Artificial Intelligence for Health monitoring
The Intelligent Dairy Farm Assistant (IDA) is a result of a combination of two advanced technologies – AI and motion sensors. The IDA system comprises a motion sensor tied to the cow’s neck to transmit data about the cow’s movement. The motion-sensing device transmits movements of the cow to the AI program. The sensor data is stored and aligned with the cow’s real-world behavior. After the collection of enough data, the AI can determine the activity of the cow by reading the data alone. The fresh data from motion sensors and its comparison enables the AI to determine whether the cow is ill, ready to breed or has become less productive. The AI also sends alerts to the farmer about the change in the cow’s behavior allowing human intervention where needed. Without AI, it would be almost impossible for the farmer to keep a watchful eye on every cow in the herd.
- Artificial Intelligence for Detection of Estrus
Accurate detection of heat (Estrus) is an important factor in the success of dairy farms. The advancement in AI technology and its applications has enabled farmers to prevent losses caused by incorrect detection of Estrus. The collar (with motion sensors) tied to
the cow’s neck collects all types of data related to cow 24 hours a day. Artificial Intelligence components of the dairy automation system process the collected data to provide insights on the heat stress, change in feeding efficiency and the estrus of the cow. The occurrence of estrus cycle results in the release of special hormones that affect the cow’s behavior and movement. For example, a cow in standing heat is more likely to stand still for a long time allowing others to mount her. The AI component compares the recently collected data (about movements) with stored data and can predict the ovulation period of the cow in advance. Since the ovulation period starts after 24 to 32 hours of the onset of “Standing heat,” the farmer has enough time to prepare for artificial insemination of the cow in heat.
- Robotic System to Deliver Vaccines
Today farmers are required to give hundreds of vaccines and reproductive medicines to animals in dairy farm. If you plan to deliver vaccines manually, each dairy farm would be required to invest heavily in labor and training. For a sustainable economic future of
dairy farms and to achieve 100% compliance rate, modern dairy farms use a robotic injection system to deliver vaccines and reproductive medicines to domestic animals on the dairy farm. The robotic system is integrated with a dairy automation system. The robotic injection system reads the RFID tags attached to the cow’s ear and gets health-related information and vaccination record for the cow. If the cow requires an injection, it is directed towards the injection site and the injection mechanism position itself to deliver the medication in the cow’s neck.
That’s the way tech is changing the dairy industry……
Aided by lasers, sensors, and data collection, automation has helped dairy farm owners overcome difficulties of finding workers ready to do manual labor at dairy farms. One good thing about automation is that animals seem to have adjusted to this new technology trend and they seem to like robots better.