Expert Insights

Hands-Free Tech: The New Frontier in Precision Farming

VES-Artex hosted the latest in its VES-Artex Academy Webinar series featuring Terry Canning, CEO and co-founder of CattleEye, a health management system featuring AI-powered video analytics specifically for livestock farmers.

In many ways similar to VES-Artex’s vision for a dairy ecosystem supported by technology infrastructure, Canning views an on-dairy future where technologies provide a completely hardware-free method of monitoring dairy cows. In partnership with Adam Askew and David McCleary, Canning launched CattleEye in 2019.

“We need better data to be able to make educated genetics decisions, to improve efficiencies on the farm, and also to monitor and improve animal welfare,” Canning said. “Currently, it's primarily carried out by human observers. Whether they're mobility scoring, locomotion scoring or body condition scoring, it’s difficult for humans to do because it is extremely repetitive and they may make mistakes.”

Wearable technologies, like devices attached to legs or collars, have incrementally helped the dairy industry but they typically require complex configuration, Canning said during his VES-Artex Academy talk, which you can view in full here. Many of the computer vision solutions already on the market for precision farming are primarily based on 3D technology, which is expensive and requires high bandwidths, which often presents challenges for dairy farms – especially those in very rural areas with limited connectivity opportunities.

CattleEye’s technology, by comparison, uses 2D low-cost security cameras that many producers might have on the farm already. It provides a completely hands-free way to monitor each individual cow’s welfare and performance. Collars or pedometers that need regular maintenance and commissioning are not needed. 

Farmers simply mount a basic, low-cost security camera over the entrance or exit of their milking parlor and CattleEye’s artificial intelligence algorithms in the cloud will start learning how to uniquely identify cows, monitoring welfare and an increasing number of other behaviors. Then CattleEye delivers these insights right back to the farmer’s smartphone, or it has the ability to integrate with their farm management system. The system will not interfere with other on-farm monitoring devices that the farm may already be using.

CattleEye has the potential to integrate with existing precision farming technology. These technologies create smart environments with automated systems that adjust based on metrics and behaviors, creating the best outcomes for herds and for production.

“Our intention is to build an ecosystem. Of course, there's no point if we're just collecting locomotion scores and farmers aren't doing anything with it. We provide a system where we integrate with all the other stakeholders around hoof health to create the best information and value for the farmer.”

CattleEye’s insights give farmers the opportunity to take action to make efficiency gains. The technology picks up on early signs of lameness and gives farmers an opportunity to treat that lameness before it becomes chronic, more efficiently managing animals and improving welfare standards. 

When it comes to detecting lesions, CattleEye outperformed the experts. 

“We ran a study with the University of Minnesota to work on how the intervention should occur whenever the CattleEye score tended to trend up. And this was before the cows were lame. CattleEye produces a report of all the cows that were trending in an upwards manner. And some were treated, and some weren't. And they found that the ones that were treated had a more favorable outcome in 14 days after treatment.”

CattleEye focuses on the individual animals: how to make that animal more productive and helping the dairy man or dairy woman make better decisions. When a farmer is equipped with data to make the best and right decision, it’s going to help increase productivity overall.”

Want even more insight on precision farming technology and industry best practices? Make sure to our robust library of VES-Academy Webinars and the all-new Dairy Intelligent Podcast here.

Prev Next