DeLaval has become the first company to develop a mechanical system which will automate body condition scoring.
Automated body condition scoring has long been awaited, and DeLaval has become the first company off the blocks with a product which takes the human out of the process.
Based on a 3D camera, the system videos every cow as she passes below the device and selects the best still image of the video sequence. Analysing the image to find the characteristics of the cow’s back, it then converts these characteristics into a body condition score (BCS).
Designed to save hours of labour and cut out human error, the system links to DeLaval’s own DelPro herd management software, where it can identify cows which are not in peak condition (or over fat), alerting the farmer to consider making adjustments to their feed.
The equivalent scoring undertaken manually is said to introduce subjectivity, potentially miss rapid increases or decreases in condition, and too often only be written on paper unlinked to management software and unable to highlight trends.
Hugh Black from DeLaval says: “This does the same day after day, cow after cow, and has been compared to the gold standard – a highly trained human.
“The technology is a world first and completely changes the way the farming community will look at body condition scoring,” he adds. “It gives consistent and daily feedback on the condition of a herd without any work on the part of the farmer. That is valuable information which can have significant benefits to the health of the cow and to the running and profitability of the farm.”
The system has already been installed on farms across Europe, Asia, and North and South America, while six installations are in place in the UK and Ireland. Available for use with the DeLaval voluntary milking system, parlours and rotaries, the cost is about £4500, plus a running cost of about £4/cow/year (depending on herd size) based on the software and licence.