7th November 2023

Use of artificial intelligence in dairy farming – New funding for research in use of AI to optimise dairy farming

A state-of-the-art feasibility project has begun into how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to improve dairy farming in the UK, funded by Innovate UK Bridge AI.

Led by Galebreaker Ltd, specialists in environmental control and ventilation of livestock buildings, the Animal Centred Controlled Environment for Dairy (ACCED) project will assess the feasibility of how individual dairy cow behaviour in real time can be used to optimise the environment to improve herd productivity, health and welfare.

Jeremy Scudamore, managing director of Galebreaker, explains that with the issues of global warming and climate change, the UK dairy herd are regularly having to combat adverse climate events. Heat stress in dairy cows is a direct consequence of these events, affecting fertility, lameness, mastitis, milk yields and, in severe cases, the longevity of the animal. 

It is estimated that heat stress could cost a farmer with an average herd size over £20k a year. Reducing the effects of heat stress can therefore increase the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the farm and the wider supply chain, which is why this new project is so important.

The collaborative project with Smartbell, who are at the forefront of animal behaviour and environmental sensors and monitoring, will use AI to determine when an individual or group of cows are experiencing early signs of heat stress.

This will then be used to control ventilation devices to mitigate and reduce the long-term effects of heat stress. Fundamentally, this will mean the cows themselves will be able to influence and optimise their environment during periods of hot weather to ensure it is right for them.

Veena Adityan, co-founder of Smartbell said “our passion for enhancing animal health through data analytics and machine learning is paving the way for better understanding of the intricate world of cows. By applying our core cow behaviour models, we are identifying the markers of early yet troubling signs of heat stress. It is great to collaborate with Galebreaker on this project; making early warning of heat stress immediately actionable by changing the environment is revolutionary”.

Mr Scudamore says: “Galebreaker has been at the forefront of ensuring housed livestock have the ‘best of outdoors indoors’ for the past 40 years. This exciting project allows us to embrace the world of AI while addressing a global need to ensure food production is sustainable into the future through the focus on animal welfare.”

“It’s great that two UK manufacturers can collaborate together through the support of Innovate UK to continue to drive innovation on global issues within the agriculture sector,” he says.