Today internet of things is the most topical talk in the tech industry. If you are still unaware of this term, the Internet of Things, a.k.a IoT, then just look around; you have been using it in your daily life, either in the form of smart watches or smart microwaves or smart water bottles, etc, says Ritesh Sutaria, director at Prompt Equipments Pvt Ltd.
In words, IoT is a network of connected devices where the data and information are interlinked in a very interesting way. Now that we are well familiar with IoT, let’s know how it could be the fifth revolution in the dairy industry. We all know that 2018 has embraced the fourth industrial revolution, which included a new step in the production, automation and computerisation of the processes by using data provided by the IoT connected devices.
Many thought that this concept is used in industries like fitness, health, or electronics, but this technology is also doing amazing in agro. As per research, in 2016, an agro-tech company received a huge sum of [$3.2 billion (€3.04 billion)] investment. This shows an immense scope for digitalisation in every section of dairy farming.
Why is there a need for smart dairy farming?
The changing trend in the market has encouraged growth in the industry, and all these demands can only be met by staying up to date with the crucial technology.
From keeping an eye on the health of the livestock to her heat period, it is crucial to monitor the activities of livestock to prevent any illness before it becomes fatal.
Today, more than 97% of the U.S. dairy farmers take their business not just as a source of business and as a family business. This implies that they have been aged while living with livestock, and dairy has been part of the family for a generation, but business is no more as it was decades before.
Today farmers are switching to smart dairy farming using IoT, and it is believed that in coming years, it will become the revolutionary solution to reduce animal mortality, enhance farm capacity and boost productivity.
To fulfill the increasing dairy demand in developed countries, advanced tools and the latest equipment are needed. IoT integrated collar is a solution to serve the need.
How does the smart collar work?
The IoT integrated smart collar is an IoT enabled cattle management system with a physical product connected with a digital screen. This cattle tracking device with GPS installed in it provides the livestock’s real time location and sends the signal to the owners every fifteen minutes. The collars are linked with the routers installed near the farming site from where they receive the signals.
The collar strap is accessorised with vital sensitive devices that regularly provide reports over the software dashboard screen. The data gets transmitted and kept in the form of graphs and charts when the belt is installed.
Why opt for smart dairy farming using IoT?
We all know that manual milking is a time eating process, and it even demands more human resources. IoT enabled smart collars can solve this problem more effectively and with less staffing by introducing auto milking.
Auto-milking is a robotic system and is completely automated; it does not know the temperature and any diseases affecting cattle health. It will procure the milk from all the cattle in the same way and same time. So, when we integrate IoT into the cattle through the smart collar, it allows us to look into important factors which are normally not noticed if milking is done manually.
Smart collar tracks the temperature, health, activities, and nutritional requirements and helps in yielding better quality milk.
Tracking the heat cycle:
Manually yielding milk from a cow that is not in a heat cycle causes low fertility. For better quality milk, cattle must reproduce one calf a year to maintain the lactation period.
Normally, lactating cattle undergo heat every 21-28 days, but it is not easy to know manually. It is actually a time taking process with no accuracy. The heat can stress down the cattle, which leads to less milk production and, if yielded, can reduce the milk quality with reduced fat, casein, lactose, and protein content.
Such errors can be prevented by opting for smart collars as they send alarms to the owner when the cow is in a heat period and information about the best time for artificial insemination.
Tracking the movement with GPS:
Monitoring the cattle while grazing and sometimes losing it is not new. Many dairy farm owners hire employees for this particular job. But tracking collars with GPS implanted in it provides real time data which informs the owner about the real time location of the cattle.
The smart collars are best in the 5-10 cattle field, as each collar will work as a personal tracker and provide the information related to the cattle. In this way, an owner will be able to keep a check on each cattle without employing many workers.
No matter how many employees you hire, it is certainly impossible to monitor cattle 24*7. Rumination in the cattle indicates their health and performance. This method of knowing the health of cattle requires human resources, and it can only be performed only when on the field. This traditional method does not promise the accuracy, so human error is possible.
IoT integrated software systems can track individual cows’ rumination data and alert the owner when some changes in the cattle are observed.
Decrease mortality with security alerts:
A healthy and appropriate amount of eating affects the health of the cattle. No, doubt, it is possible to know how much your cow fed by manually observing, but it is impossible to analyse the rumination process. What if rumination was not effective? Thus, it is pretty clear that monitoring changes in activities of the herd are one of the challenging and time-consuming tasks.
IoT-enabled devices can resolve all the concerns. Smart collars catch even the small changes occurring in the activities of the cattle and immediately alert the owner.
The sensors attached to the smart collar help farmers by personally supervising the cattle’s movement. It will gather and store the data to help farmers diagnose any future health issues.
Control disease outbreaks:
A major outbreak of disease can be controlled by using smart collars. These speechless creatures cannot convey their health issues to us, which sometimes causes the spread of disease on the entire farm.
Lameness, mastitis, foot and mouth disease, and milk fever are cattle’s most common fatal diseases.
This situation can be avoided before it turns worse and can save farmers from huge losses and financial wrecks in the future. IoT enables smart collar solutions can detect the changes in the health of the cattle and inform the owner immediately so that proper actions and medication are executed.
In a nutshell:
Connecting everything means connecting the devices, information, and data that can be instantly transferred for a better decision making process. Traditional dairy farming methods are good, but they do not promise better quality and good health for cattle. It requires investment in human resources, consumes time, and still does not promise untouched milk. This causes low quality milk, which means less pay and ultimately no profit at all.
Owning a dairy farm and running it is a challenging task. An IoT-enabled solution can help farmers by cutting down the investment in human resources and enhancing productivity while assuring the good health of the livestock.
The author is Ritesh Sutaria, director at Prompt Equipments Pvt Ltd.