Application in pasture based systems
Another important development for Nedap, within its system that is now known as Nedap CowControl, has been the introduction of real-time data processing. Verstege: “This means our sensor technology is extra suitable for use in pasture-based systems. We collect the data for each cow 24/7 and farmers can summon the data at all times because of the real-time data processing. In practice, it means that when cows come back to the milking shed, the farmer responds to the sensor insights and can hence separate the cow for insemination or respond to a health insight. Chris Gerritsen, international business development manager at Nedap Livestock Management points out that all the investments the company did in the hardware, software, application and data processing resulted in a very accurate and user friendly solution to monitor cows in all possible farming systems, including pasture-based systems. Gerritsen: “The farmers in New Zealand and Australia are true champions in keeping the cost price of milk low. But we see that these farms start to become bigger and prepare for the future. This development coincides with increased investments in fully automated milking sheds, ranging from automatic cup removers to milking robots and other types of technology such as sensors”.
More interest for health monitoring
According to Nedap, pasture-grazing systems are ideal for monitoring cows with sensors. Gerritsen: “This is because these systems allow for natural behaviour and all the cows are kept under the same conditions with fewer distractions compared to tie- or free-stall barns. We are therefore very enthusiastic to show more farmers with pasture based systems that Nedap’s CowControl technology is an easy way to step up the game and become more efficient and profitable. And the added value lies in more accurate heat detection, but increasingly for health monitoring”. Verstege adds: “The demand for health monitoring is definitely increasing around the world, and also in Australia and New Zealand. In the past, farmers only used sensors on the cows that needed to get pregnant, which correspond to around one-third of the herd. This was also common practice in European systems in the past. But also the pre- and post calving period are extremely important to monitor body condition, feed intake and health of the cow. Luckily, over the last years, the mindset of farmers has changed, and we see that pretty much all farms choose to equip all the cows with a sensor. Not only to save labour to swap them all the time, but especially to monitor the health of all cows during all production phases with limited amounts of labour. Our so called SmartTag collar sensors help farmers to spot health issues a few days before they become critical, allowing for quicker intervention and treatment”.
Partnerships with leading brands
Since the introduction of the real-time, pasture-based friendly sensors, Nedap has been supporting farms across Australia and New Zealand. “We are active in these regions for years already, but many farmers may not recognize our solutions as coming from us. This is because we sell our technology through business partners”, explains Gerritsen. Nedap partners with a range of leading companies in milking equipment and genetics who integrate their identification and animal monitoring solutions in the products and services they offer to farmers. This way their solutions are powered by Nedap technology. “We associate ourselves with the well known and top brands in the industry that farmers already work with and trust. Farmers who choose to invest in automated milking sheds and/or milking robots for example can decide to upgrade with our heat and health monitoring solutions. We also partner with certain breeding companies, so farmers can invest in sensors to achieve the breeding goals together with their existing partner. It is like ‘Nedap Inside’, a way of saying that we all know from the PC computers equipped with powerful Intel processors and marked with a little ‘Intel Inside’ sticker”, Gerritsen adds.