Software which uses imaging technology to identify individual cows by their features within several seconds is being explored by Cargill and Cainthus, a Dublin-based machine vision company.
Phillip Ingram, ruminant technical manager for Cargill, explained that by recording individual patterns of movement, data such as food and water intake, heat detection and behaviour patterns could be tracked, which is done using smart cameras linked to a PC and other devices.
Mr Ingram said its main skill was the interpretation in the form of an artificial intelligence-driven algorithm, which would show up any deviations from the ‘norm’ via daily reports which could be used to anticipate any issues so subsequent decision making could be done in near real-time.
He said: “This tool allows the herdsman to have eyes on the herd all the time, which has huge potential particularly among larger herds and where staff may not have the time to walk and see the behaviour exhibited that this technology can monitor.
"It is straightforward to use and there is no need for collars or ear tags.”
The technology is not currently available in the UK, but is being used on two farms in Ireland and on some 30,000 cows in the US.