An ‘intelligent’ cow-monitoring system, “Ida”, launched today at GFIA Europe 2017, is the first to use artificial intelligence to provide dairy farmers with insights and recommendations for improving productivity, animal welfare and overall herd health.
Ida combines sensor technology, machine learning and cloud computing to translate raw data ‘from the field’ into meaningful information that can be used as a decision-support tool for dairy farmers. The system has already attracted the attention of a large global dairy giant, who now plans a larger roll-out following a successful pilot project amongst its customers’ herds.
Ida: a system based on intelligence
“Ida takes what others have done with trackers and tags and creates a new category: the intelligent dairy farming assistant,” says Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra, the company responsible for developing the system. “Unlike existing trackers, which merely relay data to a central collection point, we built Ida as a system based on intelligence.” Ida not only collects the data received from individual cow sensors but then sends it into the cloud for analysis. This happens continuously, creating hundreds of thousands of pieces of data for Ida to analyse and learn from. “Crucially, Ida does the analysis, freeing the farmer from having to interpret all this data. Alerts and advice follow, providing the farmer with a highly detailed insight into the health and well-being of the whole herd as well as individual cows, concentrating on the three essentials: heat, health and feed.”
Seven different cow behaviours
Ida has already ‘learnt’ to detect seven different cow behaviours – eating, ruminating, idle, walking, lameness, standing and drinking – with accuracy currently running at around 80 percent and very low rates of false positives. By monitoring these behaviours, Ida can raise an alert about an individual animal, whether related to the onset of oestrus or a potential, as-yet-unnoticed health problem. “Thanks to the power of cloud computing, as more cows ‘join’ the system, Ida’s accuracy increases further,” Mr Khokhar explains. “As Ida learns from new data points, supplemented by other sources of data – we’re talking with partners to combine data further – new features will automatically become available. “Ida also learns from the actions of farmers, allowing recommendations to become even richer and more personalised over time.” Provided to farmers on a subscription basis, the system has no capital outlay and includes all ongoing updates, customer support and hardware maintenance.