Bles Dairies started its East Africa division in 2016. Headquartered out of Eldoret, Kenya, Bles Dairies East Africa is currently carrying out a pilot project for the Intelligent Dairy Farmers’ Assistant (Ida), developed by Connecterra.
Africa’s growing (youth) population and demographic developments have lead to high demand for milk and dairy products. The East African dairy sector does have large potential, but at the moment its insufficient capacity has caused a huge gap between supply and demand.
Ida x Bles Dairies East Africa
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. The possibility to achieve results does exist, but challenges in the dairy sector still remain. To face these and to keep up with the quick developments in the fast-emerging East African dairy market, we established a local presence in Kenya.
Headquartered out of Eldoret, Kenya, Bles Dairies East Africa is currently carrying out a pilot project for the Intelligent Dairy Farmers’ Assistant (Ida). We decided to start on three different dairy farms in the region and expand from there. Since the installation of Ida, the farmers have not only experienced an increase in milk production and more accurate heat detection, but it has also made supervision on the farm much easier.
The Ida monitors different behaviours of the cow, such as eating, ruminating, laying, walking, lameness, standing and drinking. The data is then analysed in the cloud where it is translated into actionable insights. These are then sent to the farmer through in-app alerts with three key elements in mind: heat, health and feed.
Illula Farm: increase in milk production
Since the start of the pilot project, the farmers have noticed significant changes. At Illula Farm, where manager Mr. John Magut is enthusiastic about the new technology that makes use of artificial intelligence. “I am amazed to see how Ida monitors the behaviour of my cows. My previous “naked eye” observations were only a small part of what’s really going on with the cows! The IDA technician could even tell me at what time we feed our cows, only by looking at the activity graphs.” Illula Farm has experienced an enormous increase in milk production in 2018. Ida showed the farmer for example that their cows ate less while outside the barn due to lower quality feed. With the assistance of Ida, monitoring the rumination and eating patterns of the cows, the farmer was able to change the feed rations and therefore improved the feed condition of the cows.
Seregon Farm: adjustment of feed rations
At Seregon Farm, the feed rations have also been adjusted. This is because Ida showed them that there was a lot to be gained from improving the rumination time. The farmer has changed the chopping size of the fodder and reduced the number of concentrates in the feed. These small modifications have improved the condition of the cows overall. “Besides that, IDA has not only helped us improve the heat detection but also shows early signs of health issues,” explains veterinary Ms. Winny Chebii. “We were able to notice a cow had been trapped in a cubicle because IDA showed us that the cow had been laying for hours. From far away the cow looked okay but from up-close we discovered bruises, caused by struggling with the cubicle metals.”
Bensoy El Shaddai Farm: stepping up heat detection
The installation of Ida at Bensoy El Shaddai Farm coincided with the completion of a new barn. Using the “Ask Ida” feature they can now measure the impact of the new barn in relation to the behaviour of the cows. Being able to measure the impact of changes like this gives the farmer room to make effective adjustments. This has all led to overall satisfaction and an evident return on investment for the farmer. 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.
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