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smaXtec 4.0 – multifunctional Dairy Cattle Sensor System for a proactive productivity and health management in Dairy Farming

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ProDairyWelfare (smaXtec 4.0 – multifunctional Dairy Cattle Sensor System for a proactive productivity and health management in Dairy Farming )

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-01-31

The dairy industry has been changing significantly over the last decades. Cost pressure has been leading to farming intensification and consolidation, resulting in an increase in cow sickness and fertility, shorter lifetime of high-yield animals and lower per cow productivity. Other factors such as the increase in milk demand and the increase in regulations have also been influencing the work of dairy farmers in Europe.

smaXtec developed a globally unique inside sensor-based monitoring solution for continuous management of heat, calving, health status and feeding of dairy cows. The objective of the ProDairyWelfare project is to further develop a decision-making tool for dairy farmers based on intensive field research which enables farmers to produce milk both in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The benefits of using this tool will be increased animal welfare and cow’s lifetime as well as the reduction of medication, especially antibiotics. European farmers will be able to satisfy the increasing demand in milk while working in a resource-saving and environment-friendly way thanks to optimised processes and feeding on the farm.

Transparency plays a key role for consumers and all companies who are part of the food production chain. Milk production should be clearly traceable to ensure that the best quality is produced. A clear indication of origin and observation of methods of processing are indispensable to guarantee that high quality is given. With a sensor providing all relevant data over the cow’s lifetime transparency will be reinforced.
The overall objective of the innovation project is to optimize and commercialise a real time Decision Support Tool for a proactive healthcare management of cows matching today´s demands of dairy farming. The aim is to assist the user not only by informing about the actual status of the animals and the herd, but also by giving clear advice on further actions.

Within the first project year around 1.000 dairy cows have been equipped with smaXtec sensors. Parallel to the sensor data, observations and other barn and cow´s health information is documented by our research partners to generate annotated data sets in order to increase the software algorithms significantly.

At the same time, another work package aims to develop alternative business models including the relevant legal framework.
The continuous monitoring of various different data is already state of the art in dairy industry as it is in other fields of application. “ProDairyWelfare” aims to go a step beyond “only” presenting the actual health status of the farm animals. Until the end of the project the capabilities of the smaXtec system will be extended to help preventing highly critical situations through countermeasures already in a very early status.