Agritech firm Halter’s collars allow cows to be moved through sound and vibrational currents.
Halter company manager Steve Crowhurst said expanding that to allow remote drafting was a “wow moment” for farmers and a world first.
“The collar device takes thousands of readings from a cow and can identify issues more quickly than what would be observed in the milk shed for example,” Crowhurst said.
“We are able to get what we call a cowgorithm, which is a full status report on an individual cow.
“Cows are drafted, or separated, for a number of reasons, namely the springers, on heat or for sickness. They might need extra feed, they might need to be assessed for lameness, or they might need to be artificially inseminated during mating.”
Traditional drafting is typically managed via an auto drafting system built into the exit of the cowshed. But it can be expensive, involves building infrastructure, isn’t foolproof, and the system dates quickly.
Waikato dairy farmer Fraser Hasnip says now he has 1000 cows the technology is huge for him.
“Drafting calving cows out of the springer mob is no longer a game of bull rush with a break fence in a paddock. I no longer lug around reels and standards and need loads of people to help,” he said.
“I can manage everything on my own without the extra stress to me and the cows.”
About a dozen other farms in Waikato are using the Halter software. It was adopted last year by a handful of Canterbury farms.
Halter collars are leased under a per cow subscription lease.
Data gathering technology is being expanded by other companies such as CowManager and Allfex. Dutch-based company Connecterra announced late last year it had a contract to supply its “Ida’ technology to Fonterra for its Farm Source retail outlet.
Manawatu farmer Jared Whittfield uses CowManager’s ear sensor technology to monitor his dairy cows.
“When you’re milking 50 cows it’s not hard to see if one is having a bad day, but when you have a thousand that’s a very different task. With cow wearable devices, you get that same level of connection to your cows again,” Whittfield said.
“Not only can you monitor individual cows, but you can also get a sense of how your herd is performing overall by looking at cows at different ages and stages of lactation and identifying whether there are any trends.”
Agritech co-op LIC utlilises a “cloud-based” herd management system to connect CowManager data into one system for that individual cow.
LIC’s NZ general manager Malcolm Ellis said better data could drive productivity and sustainability improvements in the industry.
“Tech is the future for many industries, but much of the value lies in integration. We’ll continue to investigate opportunities where we can partner with others in the tech sector to deliver to farmers’ needs and unlock more value for our farmers.”