Kenyan farm Bensoy El Shaddai steps up heat detection

IDA is currently being piloted at some farms in Kenya. Since IDA has been installed on the farm of Mr. Nyachiro in Kenya, a significant improvement in farm management and monitoring of staff has been achieved.

Dairy is a strategic factor in the movement of populations out of poverty. The development of the dairy sector will fight malnutrition and increase the incomes of smallholder farmers. Connecterra and Bles Dairies East Africa are therefore working with African farmers to help further develop the dairy sector. This is done through a pilot project with Connecterra’s product IDA – the Intelligent Dairy Farmers’ Assistant. Bensoy El Shaddai Farm is located within Eldoret Town in Kenya, and one of the farms in the pilot project. Bensoy El Shaddai is a mixed farm, successfully combining horticulture, poultry and dairy. The farm has grown steadily over the last 5 years and now has 50 cows, of which 40 in lactation, 18 in-calf heifers and 32 youngstock. The daily milk production is approximately 680 litres. Most of the milk is sold to the surrounding community and the remainder is delivered directly to a processor. The community also benefits from the fresh vegetables and eggs sold directly off farm. The farm employs 10 workers excluding casual staff that is needed during peak moments.

Farm details

  • Number of cows: 50
  • Cows in lactation: 46
  • Heifers: 18
  • Youngstock: 32
  • Average milk production per day / cow: 15-20 litres
  • Annual milk production: 250,000 litres
  • Average insemination rate: 2.3

Always know what the cows are doing

Mr. Jones Nyachiro is the owner of the farm and is really excited to participate in the project. This is because IDA will help him solving some of the challenges he faces with managing the farm. Both himself and his wife have a job outside the farm, meaning that they are not available to run the farm on a day-to-day basis. Even though they have employed a farm manager, some critical insights on the farm are still missed out on. Since IDA has been installed on the farm, a significant improvement in farm management and monitoring of staff has been achieved. IDA enabled Mr. Nyachiro and his wife to keep an eye on their cows directly and remotely. By using the insights IDA gives the farmers, they can better predict what is going on whit the animals and which animals need extra attention. IDA also helps them to work with farm employees directly to improve on certain areas, such as youngstock.

Monitoring the impact of new barn 

The installation of the IDA system coincided with the completion of a new barn, equipped to house a total of 117 dairy cows. By using the “Ask IDA” feature they could now measure the impact of the new barn in relation to the behaviour of the cows. This new feature means that farmers can literally ask the system to monitor a change or ask if they did the right thing when they made a change. In this case, the change in housing. Being able to measure the impact of changes like this gives the farmer room to make effective adjustments, that in turn lead to an improved farm ROI.

Accurate heat detection, better animal health

According to the employees on the farm, IDA has been key in monitoring health issues and heat detection. Several cows that had not been inseminated for long periods of time came in heat and were successfully inseminated. It was shown that some of the cows in heat were missed by humans, but where noticed by IDA. A second manual check confirmed that these cows were indeed in heat. According to Mr. Nyachiro, accurate heat detection alone justifies the investment in IDA. In addition, being more accurate in detecting health problems can save a lot of money as well, as Mr Nyachiro spent quite a lot of money on veterinary treatments. IDA has helped to identify health problems before they became acute. This means the farmer can give the extra care it needs to prevent sickness or treat the cow early. This reduces cost of treatment, and the number of days a cow cannot be milked is reduced. This leads to healthier cows and increased milk production.

IDA: early warning of anomalies

“IDA combines sensor technology with machine learning and continuous analysis of data in the cloud. It makes use of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence”, says Leonie ten Dam, Sales Director at Connecterra. In the first week after implementing the sensors, the IDA system uses the analysis of cow movements to discover herd patterns and give reports of anomalies in cow behaviour. It is a self-learning system, based on machine learning and feedback from the dairy farmer. The system learns what is normal behaviour, deviant behaviour and average behaviour. When the cow behaviour changes, the dairy farmer informs the system if something was wrong and which cow(s) were affected. The farmer gives feedback to the system if it was lameness, metritis, milk fever, mastitis or displaced abomasum for example. IDA learns what is happening on the farm and the system helps the farmer to increase the efficiency of the farm. Find out more about IDA here: https://www.ida.io.