New Artificial Intelligence Technology Changing Dairy Industry

WAYNESBORO, GA – Artificial intelligence, it’s something you see in the Marvel Comic movies, but it’s closer to reality then you would think as it’s being implemented into the dairy industry. Connecterra, a tech company that’s using TensorFlow, a technology created by Google, has designed these trackers, called IDAs, that sit around the neck of the cow.

“With this collar, we can measure the behaviors of the cow. So, we know whether she is standing or laying, eating, rumination, drinking, walking, all of the standard behaviors of the cow,” says Niels Molenaar, Customer Success Manager for Connecterra.

While the cow is wearing the collar, the tracker collects data that can provide insights on the health, heat stress, feeding, efficiency, and estrus of the cow.  The data is then wirelessly transmitted back to a cloud using these antennas where it can be accessed on a computer and even on a cellphone.

“In this situation, it’s grabbing all these types of data from these cows 24 hours a day and it’s able to synthesize that data into actual insights for farmers. So, tensor flow is great in these data heavy tasks and is really able to pull out with deep learning way that can actually aid the farmers in their production,” says Justin Burr, spokesperson for TensorFlow.

This farm in Waynesboro, is the first farm in the United States to adopt the new technology. The owner, Richard Watson, says that the technology is much needed not only on his farm, but on farms all over the country, as herd sizes have grown, making it difficult to manage at times.

“The ability to keep track of animals, to monitor animals to insure their well-being, that they’re being fed well, that they’re in good health and that their welfare is being managed becomes a lot harder for a fewer number of people over these large herd sizes,” says Richard Watson, Owner of Seven Oaks Dairy. “So, there’s become a need for technology now, to assist dairy farmers in monitoring their animals, to making sure their well-being and welfare needs are being met and that they’re in good health and being fed adequately.”

Healthy and productive cows is something that is obviously very crucial for the success of a dairy farm and right now, with the prices of milk like they are, the importance is even greater, which is why this technology couldn’t come at a better time, as it could end up saving farmers a lot of money.

“That ability to diagnose and identify those animals early helps us to prevent problems from occurring,” says Watson. “This is very important for farmers economic stand point, a 10 percent lift in productivity through early detection of health problems or feeding problems adds several hundred thousand dollars of income a year that can be saved, through the adoption of this technology.”

One great thing about the artificial intelligence program is that it’s always learning; learning about the cow, and also learning about the farmer. Over time, it will adapt to the farmer’s wants and needs.

“So, with the learning aspect of IDA, it really allows the system to not just know the cow, but also know the farm and the farmers practices. So, overtime, IDA starts to understand what works for the farmer and what doesn’t. So, it really communicates in such a way that it’s useful for the farmer,” says Molenaar.

By: John Holcomb