Just over a month ago, I wrote an article about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling us to take better care of our pets. However, the benefits of IoT for the broader animal health industry extends far beyond the home.
The technology is also being utilised in agriculture. One of the great challenges of agriculture and farming has been tracking the vast amount of animals on hand, their wellbeing and changes in their mental state.
In fact, up until very recently it’s been nigh on impossible to effectively monitor a full dairy, poultry or swine farm on an individual, herd/flock and farm level. The technology that the following companies have introduced is changing all that.
Cainthus utilise sophisticated computer vision and predictive imaging to monitor both livestock and crops. Focusing on agricultural applications, their IoT & AI-enabled cameras utilise autonomous facial detection to establish eating, or non-eating habits of cows.
This allows the farmer to identify individual animals and issues that would have previously been missed. The farmer can then capitalise on this through putting together bespoke feeding programmes or contacting a vet if it gets more serious.
Cainthus claim that the utilisation of their technology can generate an additional $100-200 return per animal through identifying and rectifying issues faster than was previously possible.
In late 2017 they also received an undisclosed investment from agriculture giant Cargill – a huge endorsement that they’re a company to keep an eye on.
With a focus on the swine space, Fancom’s technology works on a similar principle to Cainthus. Utilising 3D cameras, Fancom are able to create accurate measurements the for weight and appearance for pigs.
This means the farmer is able to alleviate the stress caused by manually weighing the animals, which in turn could cause growth dips in the animals. The technology also works with black and spotted pigs.
The data collected by the cameras is then uploaded to a cloud-based service, meaning that it’s accessible for the farmer 24/7.
Connecterra’s product offering includes a range of sensors that can be attached to, and subsequently monitor, cows. The data the sensors collect is then processed and used to provide insights into the health of the animals and their habits.
The information is then sent to the farmer’s smartphone, providing alerts (like the one below) if any animals are acting irregularly.
As it stands, the Ida system can detect estrus as well as notice digestive disorders, heat stress and ailments like mastitis and lameness before they become critical. Data on calving is also expected to be included in the technology in 2018.
Just last month, Connecterra raised over €4M in their latest round of funding.
(Calving sensor, Breedmanager, Heat)
Moocall have developed a range of products designed to help farmers track the birthing patterns of their livestock.
Their ecosystem includes a tail mounted, non-invasive, sensor that monitors contractions in cows and alerts the farmers approximately 1 hour before calving is due to begin. This is then complimented by the ‘Breedmanager’ app which can be used to effectively manage the herd.
Another of their products, Moocall 'Heat', is a collar designed to indicate which cows are in their standing heat, allowing the farmer to put together more efficient breeding programmes.
PrognostiX specialise in the highly sensitive area of poultry production. Even the slightest change to the environment of a flock can have serious impact upon birds’ wellbeing.
They monitor the environment of a flock through utilising a range of sophisticated sensors which then automatically inputs data into their system, creating easy to read visualisations for the farmer. This data can then be used to create preventative analytic tools to ensure the highest levels of operational efficiency from the farm.
Their range of products can monitor temperature, humidity, air flow, carbon dioxide and light intensity which can all significantly impact the wellbeing of the flock.
Implantable medical devices are a hot topic of discussion in human healthcare and it’s no different when it comes to agriculture. EmediVet are one company that are utilising this idea to create a smart solution for managing livestock.
Their implantable health tracker can be inserted into a whole herd which then reduces the need for herd-wide inspections and treatments. The implant detects distress, fertility and other health metrics within cows.
The connected app then allows the farmer to bring up data at cow, herd or farm level to help visualise trends and manage issues as quickly as possible. EmbediVet aren’t at the point of commercialising just yet, but implanted devices are going to be a hot topic in agriculture over the next few years.