In 2004 IceRobotics designed a research tool (now sold in over 30 countries) to monitor cattle behaviour on a second-by-second basis. By optimising sensor placement, results indicated that automated detection of lameness should be feasible. Further Innovate UK supported research has subsequently enabled a world-leading system to be developed and validated. This incorporates wireless, remote activity measurement, with cloud-based real-time analysis and alerting.
The system is being marketed under the product brand name of “CowAlert”, which is now being sold to dairy farmers worldwide. Recent data has shown that farms applying the technology can move from lower to upper quartile productivity in just 12 months.
In order to improve profitability and sustainability, dairy farmers need to continuously monitor their cattle health, welfare and productivity. Cattle behaviour, such as the amount of time spent lying or standing, can provide a timely and effective measure of health and fertility. For instance, this can identify when cattle are in heat and ready for artificial insemination – essential as cattle need to calve every year to maintain their milk production. Traditionally this has been achieved by visual assessment of cattle, which is subjective and time-consuming. Intelligent remote monitoring enables precision management of dairy farming. The global value of such technology is estimated at over £1bn annually and set to grow substantially through pressure to meet high standards of animal welfare and to reduce environmental impact.
"Support from David Telford at the KTN and Innovate UK has provided IceRobotics with an invaluable source of networking and funding which has resulted in successful new collaborations and projects. Without this support our company would not have been able to grow and develop our innovative new products."
KTN has worked with IceRobotics since 2008 to build relationships and collaborative projects helping to take the technology to market. Research opportunities identified by KTN and supported by Innovate UK have helped IceRobotics build a solid pipeline of R&D projects totalling over £2.8M. Smaller awards have also allowed IceRobotics to establish other new collaborations, such as with the University of Liverpool.
KTN introduced IceRobotics to a wide network of partners that led to new collaborations.
IceRobotics awards supported by the KTN and Innovate UK include:
- £1,739,152 (2014) Dairy Animal Sensor Integrated Engineering project (DASIE). Innovate UK project No. 101826, with Harper Adams University, Kingshay Farming and Conservation Ltd and Müller UK & Ireland Ltd.
- £1,081,813 (2012) Cloud-enabled Robust Intelligent Sensing Platform (CRISP). Innovate UK project no 101249 with Avanti Communications Ltd, Peacock Technology Ltd, The Dairy Group Ltd, Keytree Ltd, and Alta Genetics Ltd.
- £5,000 KTN SPARK award (2012) with University of Liverpool. Evaluation of IceScore mobility for lameness and disease detection and treatment monitoring.
- KTN helped IceRobotics to develop an R&D pipeline allowing product commercialisation
- KTN introduced IceRobotics to a wide network of partners that led to new collaborations
- KTN helped with winning over £2.8M in competitive funding.