Using IT to determine when cows are in estrus
The livestock industry supplies us with essential meat and dairy products and is an important part of the domestic primary production sector. The industry is having a hard time at present, due to the combined impact of the new TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement, rising prices for feed, and the emergence of cheaper imported meats.
Farmers are looking at new ways to introduce efficiencies and boost productivity. One key way to boost productivity of meat and milk is to encourage more live births. However the problem is that cows are in estrus for a short period, only 12 to 18 hours, and it can be hard to determine precisely when that will occur.
The GYUHO SaaS, Akisai food and agricultural cloud service from Fujitsu, can be used to predict when a cow is about to come into estrus based on the number of steps it takes in day. Notifications are sent to the farmer via email over the Akisai farming cloud service.
Cows tend to walk more when coming into estrus
The GYUHO SaaS solution works on the simple premise that cows tend to walk more as they come into estrus. Every cow is fitted with a pedometer that monitors the number of completed steps. This information is used to predict when the cow is coming into estrus. Updates are emailed directly to the farmer’s mobile phone. The solution is designed to replace the time-consuming practice of going to the livestock shed every night and inspecting all the cows. And by improving the timing of impregnation, it boosts the chances of success.
Trials and testing in Japan and Europe
One farmer in Japan has reported that the GYUHO SaaS solution has boosted the fertilization rate on his farm from 44% per impregnation to around 90%. Dairy cows produce milk when impregnated, so the fertilization rate has a direct bearing on milk production. The solution also helps the farmer to monitor the general health and wellbeing of his cattle and identify signs of illness and disease.
The GYUHO SaaS solution has been adopted by a number of farmers around Japan, from Hokkaido and the Tohoku region in the north down to Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa in the south.
At Nobels Dairy Farm in Hokkaido, the solution is reportedly providing more reliable estrus prediction which in turn has helped to boost milk production. The farm currently has pedometers fitted to 1,150 cows (as of April 1, 2016) and plans to increase this number to about 4,000.
Outside of Japan, the GYUHO SaaS solution is currently operational at four dairy farms in South Korea, with trials also underway on farms in Poland, Turkey and Romania.
In the Poland trial, conducted by the National Research Institute of Animal Production, the GYUHO SaaS solution has been found to be superior to a number of other products, particularly with respect to reliability around estrus prediction. In Turkey, meanwhile, the local livestock farmers’ association is very interested in the solution and has even visited farms in Japan to observe it in operation.
The GYUHO SaaS solution has been exhibited at trade shows in Turkey and Spain, and the plan is to achieve full commercialization during FY2016.
Fujitsu is also promoting the solution as part of the Connected Cow initiative in conjunction with Microsoft.