Innovation awards announced at virtual EuroTier event

Although EuroTier was cancelled in November to be held virtually in February 2021, its innovation awards were announced at a virtual preview event.
In total, show organisers DLG presented 8 awards, including 1 gold medal and 7 silver medals from a total entry of 80 innovations.

A new smart sensor that closely monitors calf milk powder mix has won a silver medal at the EuroTier preview show. Rearing calves on any farm is time consuming, especially on a dairy farm where automatic calf feeders have proved invaluable and ensure animal-friendly and needs-based calf feeding. Powdered milk, and whole milk to a lesser extent, is usually used in the automatic feeders and a combination of both is also possible.

Fluctuating dry substance contents in new powdered milk batches necessitate constant checking and adjustment of the automatic feeders’ basic settings to achieve a consistent powdered milk concentration in the feeder milk and optimum feed qualities.

In practice, this important activity is occasionally forgone due to time constraints, as the milk replacer concentration has to be adjusted manually on the automatic feeder after calibration.

However, help is now at hand from Holm & Laue with its Brix-TS Sensor, an electronic refractometer sensor that has been integrated into the mixing tank of the ‘Calf Expert’ automatic calf feeder. Here it continuously measures and monitors the dry substance content of the freshly mixed calf milk. In the event of deviations, the system automatically corrects the concentration in the feeder milk. If whole milk is used, a consistent dry substance concentration can also be ensured in the feeder milk by adding powdered milk if necessary.

Calf monitoring technology wins EuroTier animal welfare award
New sensor technology that can detect diseases in calves has won the Animal Welfare Award at the virtual EuroTier preview show.

As part of the EuroTier innovation awards, products that foster the exercise of species-specific behaviour patterns and positively support animal health are additionally presented with the Animal Welfare Award by the show organisers DLG together with the German Association of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (bpt). Technical solutions that lead to increased animal welfare and animal health are therefore specifically highlighted.

This time around the Animal Welfare Award 2021 is being presented to Futuro Farming GmbH, Regensburg for its Calf Monitoring System. By means of continuous calf monitoring and speedy feedback to the farmer, the system enables effective health monitoring for each individual calf in the population. The early warning system for calf diseases detects outbreaks of disease up to 3 days in advance and can be used from day one for calves kept individually. A sensor is attached to each calf igloo/box for individual housing, which records the behaviour of the calves. The sensor system sends this data to the servers, where an algorithm evaluates the calves’ data and identifies calves that are susceptible to disease.

The sensor system sends this data to the servers, where an algorithm evaluates the calves’ data and identifies calves that are susceptible to disease. Photo: EuroTier
These abnormalities are sent to the farmer’s smartphone via an app. The farmer then receives real-time notifications so that they can treat calves as early as possible.

The system for the early detection of diseases in calves is based on a precise, energy-saving, and, above all, non-invasive infrared sensor which detects the calf’s behavioural pattern.

The sensor data are promptly evaluated with AI and a prognosis for potentially developing diseases is produced. The information from the evaluation is made available to the farmer directly via an app and an online platform. Thanks to earlier treatment, the continuous monitoring of the calf and the quick provision of information to the farmer can help to make the courses of diseases milder and reduce calf mortality. By quickly treating a calf, particularly during the first few days of its life, the monitoring system can contribute directly to protecting the calf and its health and is therefore able to significantly improve animal welfare.

This innovation also won a silver medal at the event.

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