An automated mobility scoring tool, developed specifically for the dairy herd, has been launched by pioneering cow behaviour specialists, IceRobotics.

A world first, the new technology complements the suite of monitoring tools already available from IceRobotics’ highly acclaimed CowAlert system. Using specialist software, CowAlert continuously tracks fertility, lying time, lameness and general animal health on a 24/7 basis.

The newly-launched mobility module is designed to replace the visual scoring method generally used by farmers which can be costly, time consuming and subjective.

Similar to the popular ‘Fitbit’ devices used to track human activity, CowAlert automatically records and collects animal behavioural data through a robust wireless sensor which is fitted to the cow’s hind leg where it captures accurate data on stepping, activity, standing and lying time.

Using a unique algorithm, that analyses each cow’s behaviour. The farmer can then make a fully informed decision regarding intervention and treatment.

“Mobility scoring is a very important tool when it comes to monitoring overall herd health and welfare,” said Douglas Armstrong, CEO of IceRobotics.“Until now, visual assessment was the only option, but its reliability, consistency and accuracy is increasingly becoming questioned. It also places full responsibility in the hands of the farmer, stockman or farm manager which is, difficult, time consuming and highly subjective.

“CowAlert’s automated scoring system becomes the farmer’s ‘eyes and ears’, monitoring each animal’s behaviour round the clock. The cloud-based system is easily accessed by the farmer via his mobile device and can easily be shared with others such as vets. In our increasingly competitive and welfare-focused times, this gives the farming community a definite edge.”

Initially developed as a tool for researchers, and with the worldwide acclaim from over 80 leading institutes around the world, CowAlert was developed on this pedigree and launched to commercial dairy farmers in 2012. While it is not considered to be a replacement for good stockmanship, it is now a trusted, round-the-clock support mechanism, enhancing the observations of a good farmer or stockman.

“No-one can monitor their herd on a 24/7 basis but CowAlert can do it on your behalf. Ultimately this helps the farmer better manage his animals and his time, and through early detection, he can drive efficiencies and deliver more natural interventions. This is not only good for the farmer but good for his animals.” Douglas added.

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