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RFID-based feeder for giving dairy cows access to additional mineral supplements in a restricted and targeted way during the critical transition period of the lactation cycle

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Pitstop PLUS (RFID-based feeder for giving dairy cows access to additional mineral supplements in a restricted and targeted way during the critical transition period of the lactation cycle)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2017-07-31

MicroFeeder Pitstop PLUS is a market disruptive invention that responds to a huge need in EU and globally for a method for giving dairy cows in the critical transition period of the lactation extra minerals, trace elements, vitamins and other feed additives in a targeted and restricted way. Total Mixed Rations (TMR) has globally become the dominating feeding system, but cows in the critical transition period, starting 2-3 weeks before calving and lasting until around 100 days after calving, are in relation to their nutritive needs not able to eat sufficient amounts of their TMR, which is their sole source of minerals and vitamins. The result is low immune status and increase of incidences of diseases related with legs, cloves and digestion. Cows that do not recover, becomes so-called “loser cows” with a much elevated mortality rate. The described development is not only compromising ethical standards for food production, it also causes increasing economic losses related to suppressed production, fertility and health, which also is an animal welfare issue, furthermore with adverse environment, health and climate effects. The Pitstop PLUS feeder is equipped with electronic components, such as RFID based technology to identify the cows, dosing devices and advanced MESH communication. The feeder is managed through a web interface and designed for mounting on a wall, thus not taking up space in the stable. The project has the aim to stimulate the innovation capacity of enAgro and support its long-term strategy to consolidate its position in the market segment of mineral feeders via a wider variety of unique sales products, and in this way promote an organic company growth along with the building up of more specialised expertise through staff with diversified competences.
As a first phase, the feasibility of Pitstop PLUS was studied with respect to 1) market analyses, 2) needs for technical fine tuning, 3) relevance of impartial testing and validation, 4) needs for optimising production processes and facilities, 5) relevant and effective communication and dissemination activities, 6) relevant IPR strategy, 7) suitable exploitation plan, and 8) business planning. The Feasibility of Pitstop PLUS was confirmed, documented and verified by the studies, which comprise detailed planning until 2025 for enAgros business operations to exploit the Pitstop PLUS invention.
A Feasibility Study has been prepared, showing that the invention, the Pitstop PLUS feeder has capacity to become an important vehicle for business growth of enAgro. Preliminary business plan estimates shows a healthy operating profit margin that grows to 28% in 2025, and a Return on Investments (RoI) of 7.7 for the observed period until 2025, reflecting a sound investment. For the society, implementation of the market disruptive Pitstop PLUS mineral feed supplementation concept would mean job creation, improved competitiveness for the dairy sector, as well as business growth, besides improved ethics standards of dairy products due to better animal welfare among dairy cows. The Pitstop PLUS supplementation concept will furthermore reduce environmental loads of heavy metals, such as the micro minerals Zn, Cu, Se and Mn, which due to current practices of oversupply to dairy cows in mid and late lactation are excreted with faeces and pollute soils via spreading of manure as fertilsiers. The use of the Pitstop PLUS feeder would via improved resource efficiency in dairy cow nutrition have positive effects in relation to greenhouse gases. The feeder is also suitable for giving dairy cows supplement feeds that reduce the formation of methane during rumination.
Pitstop PLUS is a side-hanging feeder equipped with electronics for individual and restricted dosing