Germany’s global technology powerhouse Siemens is no stranger to smart farming technologies for optimizing plant growing systems, animal health and food sustainability. Now the company has partnered with the UK’s animal footbath manufacturer Hoofcount to improve the health and welfare of cows. Together, the companies will use Siemens’ data capture and control technologies to help farmers make informed decisions to better tackle lameness, a major problem in dairy herds.
Lameness is caused by bacteria picked up on the hoof which leads to restricted mobility, pain and behavioural changes in animals. This leads to a variety of outcomes including animal suffering, loss of milk production, decreased fertility, increased treatment, higher trimming costs and wasted labour.
For a farmer with a 100-cow herd the impacts of lameness are estimated to cost several thousand pounds per year. While across the UK dairy industry as whole, the financial impact of lameness is estimated to be well in excess of £100 million. However, regular foot baths for cows help to reduce and prevent hoof illness and lameness.
From animal footbath to data-driven cow tracking device
Hoofcount will utilise Siemens’ expertise in combining the real and digital worlds using LOGO, an intelligent logic module for small automation projects in industrial settings. LOGO manages the control of the key mechanisms of Hoofcount’s footbaths, such as chemical and water pumps, and animal feed controls.
Controllers allow Hoofcount to track the cows that go through its footbaths and provide valuable data on the herd, which can then be displayed on an HMI screen for visualisation. The baths can be controlled remotely and have the capability to feed data up to the cloud for analytics.
Anthony Marsh, Dairy Engineer and Founder of Hoofcount, said: “When we first introduced footbaths in the UK in 2012, we were already ahead of the game because they were quite new. But, with the rapid advancements in technology, we’ve reached a point where we need to go that extra mile and be revolutionary again. And, to keep leading the way, we needed that input and expertise from Siemens.
“Working with Siemens has given us a thrust for producing the technologically advanced Hoofcount. Simply put, we have transformed our footbath into a pioneering piece of equipment that will eventually help cattle farmers in making data-driven decisions.”
Lee Fletcher, Business Development Manager, Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Creating closer ties to the agriculture industry and bringing the latest technology that can transform the welfare of farm animals – a crucial factor in running healthy farms – makes Siemens proud.
“Through Hoofcount’s close work with Siemens, its design philosophy has been underpinned by industrial learnings such as the use of open standards. The technologies used by Hoofcount are scalable and have the ability to be connected to IoT devices when the need arises. The possibilities are endless. Smart controls will allow farmers to monitor and control the footbath via an app, regardless of location.”
Hoofcount’s Anthony Marsh concluded, “Clearly, our partnership with Siemens enables us to be ideally positioned to move forward quickly and sustainably, and to scale the technologies as and when required with the assurance of benefiting from Siemens’ industrial expertise.
“Hoofcount is certainly well-positioned to continue market-leadership and assist cattle farmers grow their business whilst ensuring farm animals’ health is a top priority.”