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. One of the participating farmers is Mr. Shollei.
Seregon Farm is 130-acres large, located 27km from Eldoret Town, Uasin Gishu County in Kenya. Mr. Sam Shollei owns and runs the farm. He started the farm in 2013 with ten crossbred cows, producing 150 litres of milk a day. Over the past few years, the farm has grown to 67 purebred cows, producing 800 litres of milk a day. The farm has a variety of breeds, namely: Holstein, Friesian, Jersey and Brown Swiss. Seregon Farm currently has nine permanent employees. Seregon farm is one of the three farms where IDA is being piloted in Kenya. The workers and the owners are extremely excited about having this smart farmers’ assistant available to them.
Better understanding of the cows
Mr. Fred Korir oversees the farm on behalf of the family who owns Seregon Farm. Mr. Korir is happy with having IDA on the farm, as the smart system helped the farmer to better understand the cows, which in turn lead to solving a number of problems. For example, IDA showed the farmers in a user-friendly manner that certain changes led to better results. The farmers for example adjusted the feeding to increase rumination time of the cows. They have also optimised the chopping size of the fodder and reduced the amount of concentrates used in the diet. These decisions all lead to healthier and more productive cows.
- Number of cows: 60
- Cows in lactation: 45
- Heifers: 35
- Youngstock: 22
- Average milk production per day / cow: 17-21 litres
- Annual milk production: 295,000 litres
- Average insemination rate: 1.4
Farm visits become more effective
A great advance of IDA is that the system acts as a true assistant and an extra set of eyes, as the technology is able to pick things up that people are unable to see. This makes supervision of the farm, for example when you are not on-site, a lot easier. Mr Korir says that being at the farm for a few hours per day is now enough, having IDA on his side. And when he visits the farm, it is also a more effective visit, because he can come straight to the point with the farm manager and discuss the problem areas, using the insights and analytics from IDA. The farmer is also happy that he can also source information about the cows himself, without asking his workers for this information all the time.
Detect unusual behaviour faster
Ms. Winny Chebii is the cattle manager and veterinarian at the farm and applauds IDA for the ability to improve heat detection and early detection of diseases or health conditions. IDA for example notified Ms. Chebii that a cow got stuck in a cubicle, as IDA tracked that this particular cow had been laying down in one place for hours in a row. Farm staff would not have seen this straight away, as it looked that she was resting normally. But by looking at the cow better during an inspection, it appeared that she had bruises from struggling with the metal cubicle. Being the farm veterinarian, Ms Chebii is also responsible for the insemination of the cows. With IDA, she noticed that the number of heat detections was increased. Especially for the ‘problem’ cows that don’t show obvious in-heat symptoms, IDA showed to be very effective. Seregon Farm also uses the “Ask IDA” feature, to help monitor the effect of changes made in farm management. On this farm, it was shown that the cows were not laying down a lot during the day. On inspection, they found the beddings contained pieces of stone, that is obviously not very attractive to lay on for cows. The farmer therefore decided to improve the bedding materials and IDA then showed that this actually worked as lying time increased since then.
IDA learns every day
“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”, explains 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