United States agriculture generates trillions of dollars annually for the national economy, with the production of livestock and poultry contributing alone to almost half of that total value. Facing some of the same pressing challenges as crop producers, livestock farmers are continuously looking for ways to increase farm productivity through more efficient techniques while maintaining strict food safety standards. At the same time, consumers are looking for high-quality food products that are antibiotic free, thus creating extra challenges for producers. Thankfully, some innovative companies are aiding the livestock industry help to manage herds more efficiently through the use of new technologies.
Food animal production is a critical point in its history, with a demand for increased transparency in light of food safety concerns. AAD is an emerging diagnostic technology company poised to meet industry needs.
Their innovative products provide a rapid diagnosis for livestock that precisely identifies infections and provides herd records to support treatment decisions.
The QScout Farm Lab is a portable diagnostic device that analyzes a small blood sample and tells the producer within 40-seconds if the tested animal has any infections.
A recent research study by Advanced Animal Diagnostics shows that quickly testing animals for infection and treating accordingly can reduce antibiotic use by 87% compared to mass treating cattle as they come on-farm.
Manage, record, and analyze cattle herd information anytime, anywhere on a PC, tablet, or smartphone with Farmnote’s cloud type herd management system.
The founders of Farm Note have worked hard to create and deliver technology to handle pasture information “like the handwritten notes easily”. Wearable technology worn around the cow’s neck gathers activity information in real time and is then analyzed to determine rumination time, estrus, and signs of infection.
Their product gathers and analyzes cattle activity information in real time; by notifying the user’s smart device of estrus, signs of illness, etc., it aids in optimal herd management. In 2017, Farm Note raised $4.6 million in funding to help distribute the technology domestically through Japan and expand overseas.
Rex offers a cloud computing platform that brings actionable insights and analytics to make veterinary data and animal husbandry data-driven.
Their predictive tools help herd managers save time and money while increasing biosecurity.
The software solutions allow for disease tracking and forecasting, antimicrobial resistance surveillance, drug efficacy information and outcomes, and breeding support.
In 2016, Rex unveiled technology to help veterinarians provide clinical support at the point on the farm, and predict the genetic causes of problematic traits in farmer’s herds.
Known as the “fitbit for cows”, Cowlar makes wearable technology for dairy cattle. Their wearable tracking collar measures body temperature and behavior, helping farmers to detect when the animal is in heat and predict the best time for insemination.
Cowlar also detects early disease symptoms, helps to manage stress and decrease milk production, and can increase feeding efficiency by monitoring rumination and comparing it to feed intake. Units cost $69USD each and are ready to go right out of the box, no technician installation required.
With high interest pouring in from the US, Netherlands, Vietnam, and Mexico there is currently a waitlist for product. Cowlar was accepted into Y Combinator’s winter ’17 batch and is poised to explode in the market.
When your bottom line depends on an increase in herd numbers, it’s devastating to lose calves – and potentially the cow as well – during the birthing process.
But labor can be hard to predict and often needs constant supervision, drawing the attention of the farmer or herd manager away from daily operations.
Moocall is a non-invasive tail mounted sensor that collects over 600 pieces of data per second, accurately predicting when a cow is most likely to give birth.
The device uses 3-D motion sensors to measure tail movement patterns triggered by labor contractions and sends a text alert when the cow is about an hour away from giving birth.
Summer of 2017 saw the release of Moocall’s free herd management software called Breedmanager. It is fully integrated with the company’s sensor products and provides an innovative look at an operation’s breeding herd, focusing on animals due to calve within the week.
With $4 million in venture capital secured in 2017, TL Biolabs stands to make great strides in the coming year.
They are a full-stack genomics platform offering a low-cost option to livestock producers to perform genetic testing on their herd.
With breeding being such an integral component in herd management, farmers have dreamt for decades about having a deeper understanding of herd genetics. Unfortunately, this has been waylaid due to unreasonable costs.
Founded in 2016 TL Biolabs has created a novel genomics technique that greatly decreases the cost of the testing while maintaining the quality of the information discovered. At $15 per sample, results are sent in an easy to understand format directly to the software platform downloaded by the producer. TL Biolabs is bringing affordable genetics to the livestock industry!
Somatic cell count (SCC) is the main indicator of milk quality, detecting the presence of mastitis an inflammatory reaction in dairy herds.
Mastiline has developed and manufactured an automated monitoring device for inline detection of SCC of milk.
Their instrument, LUCI, connects directly to the milking machine and takes a small sample of milk during milk and immediately analyzes for sub-clinical mastitis based on SCC. If somatic cells are detected in an individual sample the farmer can then cull a smaller portion of milk instead of potentially losing the entire bulk tank if the tainted milk is mixed in.
LUCI detects mastitis using bioluminescence, a natural process internationally accepted and scientifically validated for SCC analysis. Mastline focuses on animal welfare through their sensor-based technology resulting in better milk production, higher quality milk, and increased food safety for the consumer.
Livestock management has propelled forward with the aid of many technological advances.
Advanced milking equipment, better feed compositions, and herd genetics are transforming livestock production tremendously, but at the end of the day cattle health and management of their well being rely on the age-old principal of infrequent, subjective, physical observation.
Vital Herd is developing real-time, individual animal monitoring technology to improve animal health, nutrition, and well-being management.
A wireless inter-rumen e-pill is swallowed by the cow to safely and reliable capture data such as breathing rate, heart rate, rumination rate and temperature. This data is then transmitted to the farmer’s computer or mobile phone to alert producers of potential productivity problems.
Started in Brazil, where there are more cows than humans, BovControl aims to help farmers, food companies, and even consumers track and gather information about cattle.
Available for download onto a smartphone or tablet the software allows farmers or farm workers to input herd data quickly and efficiently.
It is then stored in the cloud to be later accessed by the farmer on a PC to aid in decision making.Data collection can be automated through smart scales, earrings, or chips depending on the tools available on farm. An added benefit is BovControl works without an internet connection; data is stored and synced as soon as a connection is established.