Ankle bracelets connected to the cloud are giving farmers a wealth of data about their cows – CNBC

From cheese and butter to an ice-cold glass of milk, cows are a crucial cog in the global food and drink industry.

In the European Union (EU), cows produced 163 million tons of milk in 2016, according to statistics body Eurostat. This represents 96.9 percent of all milks produced in the EU.

As demand for dairy products increases, farmers are under an increasing amount of pressure to boost yields and ensure their animals are in top physical condition.

One business, IceRobotics, wants to use technology to assist the farming process. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, the company develops and provides data collection and analysis to help farmers monitor the behavior of dairy cows.

Data collection and analysis is enabled by a sensor being placed on a cow’s rear leg. “It’s recording data multiple times a second,” Douglas Armstrong, IceRobotics’ CEO, told CNBC’s Didi Akinyelure.

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“The data then is transmitted,” he added. “It goes over a trigger in the milking parlor, the data is… sent to the cloud, we run our diagnostic algorithms in the cloud and then all the information is sent back to the PC.”

The device provides farmers with a wealth of data, including information relating to a cow’s fertility. Using visual interfaces such as graphs, a farmer can monitor when a cow is lying down or upright. While this may seem like an innocuous piece of information, it is anything but.

“What we’re doing is we’re measuring the difference between today’s behavior and yesterday’s behavior,” Douglas said. “Whenever… she’s looking for a mate, she’s not interested in lying down anymore and her behavior totally changes.” Increased activity in the graph generates a heat alert so the farmer knows when a cow is ready to “serve.”

The data provided by IceRobotics’ system can also let farmers know if a cow is unwell. “Cows like to lie down,” Douglas said. “They’re either lying or eating or they will socialize, but generally speaking they will lie down for about 12 hours every day.”

“If they’re not, if they’re lying down for less than that or they’re lying down for a lot longer, then you know that there is something potentially wrong.”

Problems could range from illness to being lame, an incredibly important issue for dairy farmers. “A lame cow produces less milk than she optimally could produce if she wasn’t lame, so the farmer’s, you could say… losing money,” Vivi Thorup, lead scientist at IceRobotics, said.

“It’s also a welfare issue to the cow, because if the cow’s lame it’s a sign that she’s feeling pain, she’s got sore feet for some reason,” Thorup added.

Farmer Alex Jack has a 300 strong herd of milking cows in Fife, Scotland. Jack has seen the benefits of using new technology on her farm first hand. “The cow alert system that we’ve put in here has been fantastic because it’s like having a person with each individual cow all day long, collecting data from them,” she said.

“Every morning I check the computer and I’m able to see cows that are not lying for long enough, and that would indicate that there’s potentially a problem with them,” she added. “It’s also collecting all their heats, so we get more accurate with getting cows into calve earlier, which is obviously better for them and better for us.”

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Study suggests need for cull cow lameness evaluation training – Feedstuffs

A common reason for culling dairy cows is lameness. An important element of cow welfare during transport is to make sure they are fit for transport before they are loaded into the trailer, according to researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark.

This includes an evaluation of whether their lameness is serious enough to preclude transport. Farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians regularly face the task of assessing transport fitness of lame dairy cows, Aarhus said, adding that the question is how similar their assessments are to each other.

The Aarhus researchers have done an initial investigation in which they asked farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians to evaluate cow lameness and fitness for transport based on video sequences. The aim of the study — which Aarhus said is one of the first of its kind — was to evaluate the extent of agreement among farmers, livestock drivers and veterinarians — both within and between the groups — with regard to assessing cows’ lameness and fitness for transport.

The researchers used an online questionnaire with 30 video sequences of walking cows. The respondents were asked to score each cow for lameness and assess if it was fit for transport or not, the announcement said. A total of 55 people participated in the survey: 19 farmers, 19 veterinarians and 17 livestock drivers.

The cows in the videos varied from having a completely normal gait to being severely lame. Each cow was scored as to whether it was “not lame,” “slightly lame” or “lame.” The participants were given definitions of these categories beforehand: a “not lame” cow was one that walked normally, a “slightly lame” cow was one that did not walk normally but it was not possible to see which leg was affected and a “lame” cow was one where it could been seen which leg was affected.

The participants were also asked to assess, solely on the basis of the cow’s lameness, if she was fit for transport.

Slightly different assessments

In general, agreement among the groups was moderate, the researchers said, explaining that the group of veterinarians tended to assess more of the cows as being lame, while the group of farmers tended to assess fewer of the cows as being unfit for transport. Otherwise, the researchers said there was no systematic agreement or disagreement within or among the groups.

“If our results hold in a larger survey, they indicate that there is a need for more focus on assessment of fitness for transport. This could, for example, take the form of training of the various groups that undertake the assessments. The aim would be to ensure good animal welfare during transport,” said Peter T. Thomsen from the Aarhus department of animal science and one of the researchers behind the study.

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This cow is happy with the Happycow – Boing Boing

Look at this rotating brush, called the Happycow. From the manufacturer’s description:

Through automatic controls, the cows start up the machine by themselves by a slight lift of the brush. After the machine has been turned on, the brush is in operation for approx. 60 seconds. After it switches itself off, the cow cleaning machine can be immediately reused. The cows use the machine six times a day, on average. Uses the cow’s natural behaviour of rubbing its body up against the feeding tree and activating the device.

I think my cats would go for a Happycat. If there isn’t one already, someone should Kickstart it.

Aww yisss


mark frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the founding editor-in-chief of MAKE. He is a research director at <a href="Kevin J. Anderson has written more than 125 books, including 52 national or international bestsellers. He has over 23 million books in print worldwide in thirty languages. He has been nominated for the Nebula Award, Bram Stoker Award, Shamus Award, and Silver Falchion Award, and has won the SFX Readers' Choice Award, Golden Duck Award, Scribe Award, and New York Times Notable Book; in 2012 at San Diego Comic Con he received the Faust Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is a research director at Institute for the Future and editor-in-chief of Cool Tools and co-founder of Wink Books. Twitter: @frauenfelder.


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Milk without the Cow. Eggs without the Chicken – Anthropoce


Milk without the Cow. Eggs without the Chicken

Yeast-derived “animal products” may soon be part of an environmentally balanced diet


By Lindsey Doermann

In 2008, the biotech industry had fallen on tough times: capital was drying up and businesses were struggling to survive. That’s when Ryan Bethencourt saw an opportunity. A biologist with an entrepreneurial streak, he and a couple of friends started buying equipment from bankrupt companies and setting up their own small labs. By 2013, he had co-founded Counter Culture Labs, a “biohacker” space in Oakland, California. There, DIY-biology enthusiasts are now working on, among other projects, making real cheese in a way that bypasses the cow.

Bethencourt is part of a growing group of scientists, entrepreneurs, and lab tinkerers who are forging a bold new food future—one without animals. But they’re not asking everyone to give up meat and dairy. Thanks to advances in synthetic biology, they’re developing ways to produce actual animal products—meat, milk, egg whites, gelatin—in the lab. And in doing so, they are shrinking the carbon footprint and slashing the land and water requirements of these goods with the goal of meeting the world’s growing protein needs more sustainably.

Microbes become factories that churn out the same substances that we now rely upon animals to produce.

Lab-grown meat has grabbed a lot of headlines in recent years. Dutch scientist Mark Post infamously produced the first lab-grown hamburger in 2013 to the tune of $325,000. But Post’s costs have since dropped precipitously, and one cultured-meat startup, Memphis Meats, has said it expects to have a product in stores by 2021.

However, this new food landscape extends well beyond meat. In the Oakland biohacker space, biologists, coders, and other volunteers with the Real Vegan Cheese project are figuring out how to produce the real thing, and they’re keeping their findings open-source. In the startup arena, Perfect Day is racing to get their cow-free milk to market, Clara Foods is creating egg whites without eggs, and Geltor is making gelatin in the lab. Bethencourt has supported these and other innovative food startups through IndieBio, an investment group and business accelerator he cofounded in 2014.

What all these projects have in common is that they’re harnessing the fermentation process to make animal protein. “We’ve been using that technology for thousands of years,” said Bethencourt in a recent talk. “Now we’re starting to get sophisticated with it.”

Producing animal protein in a lab looks like making beer, but with the help of a little synthetic biology. Scientists genetically modify yeast with a chunk of DNA that tells the microbe what protein to make. They then “brew” the yeast with nutrients in a bioreactor and isolate the resulting proteins. In other words, microbes become factories that churn out the same substances that we now rely upon sentient beings to produce.

In the case of Perfect Day, after isolating the yeast-derived cow’s milk protein, they add in nutrients—as well as plant-based sugars and fats—to achieve texture and flavor similar to those of milk from an udder. Unlike other milk substitutes, their milk doesn’t need starches, gums, and stabilizers, says company CEO Ryan Pandya, and it can be made into other higher-value products such as cheese and yogurt.

A preliminary life-cycle analysis of yeast-derived milk found that its production requires approximately two-thirds the amount of land and water that conventional milk production does.

Raising cows and other livestock to feed ourselves has led to a familiar host of environmental woes—CO2 and methane emissions, air and water pollution, considerable land requirements—not to mention animal-welfare transgressions and antibiotic resistance. At the same time, the demand for meat, dairy, and eggs continues to rise, particularly in developing countries.

A preliminary life-cycle analysis of yeast-derived milk found that its production requires approximately two-thirds the amount of land and water that conventional milk production does. And, assuming wind energy powers the bioreactors, yeast-derived milk beats conventional milk by about half in terms of fossil fuel depletion and global warming potential.

Of course, to reap these environmental benefits in any meaningful way will require a massive scaling effort. Bethencourt believes this will be possible within a decade. But the problem isn’t trivial. He sums up the crux of it in a deceptively simple question: “How efficiently can you turn a pound of sugar into a pound of the product you want?” The inputs to fermentation are essentially sugar water and yeast protein, but there’s still a lot of experimentation to be done to output proteins on a large scale. Some are just more difficult to make than others, says Kate Krueger, research director at New Harvest, a nonprofit that supports the science of cellular agriculture. “It’s really hard to tell what’s going to be hard to make until you try,” says Krueger. Companies are doing R&D as they go, and running a bioreactor is not cheap.

However, they’re moving toward cost-competitiveness. Perfect Day is tailoring its process so that it can work within standard industrial fermentation
facilities, according to Pandya. And Geltor is starting off by selling their gelatin products in the cosmetics industry, where a consistent, customizable product can command a premium, says company CEO Alexander Lorestani. They may explore pharmaceutical and food industry applications as their efficiency improves.

But efficiency is only one hurdle in the marketplace. The other is squeamishness. Cellular agriculture will be realized only if consumers accept the technology and its products. To those who wrinkle their noses at the idea of a yeast-based system to produce milk, Isha Datar, executive director of New Harvest, likes to remind us of the current system: “Today, milk is made by artificially inseminating a cow at 13 months of age, having it bear a calf nine months later, having the calf removed (to be made into veal), and then maintaining the cow in a lactating state for about two years. By age four, the dairy cow is culled for beef.”

Can we do better? Fermentation biotechnology has brought us cheese and yogurt. Now it could play a big part in feeding a growing world population while keeping agriculture’s environmental footprint in check. And that’s a mouth-watering prospect.


Lindsey Doermann is a freelance science writer based in Seattle, Washington

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MilkSource Genetics capture Triple Crown with three cows of different breeds earning EX-97 – Wisconsin State Farmer

KAUKAUNA – Northeast Wisconsin’s MilkSource Genetics has achieved an unprecedented Triple Crown.

With the upgrading of Holstein Weeks Dundee Anika to the rare EX-97 classification, the family-owned show barn has reached the pinnacle score with cows from three major show breeds.

In 2014, the farm’s Blondin Redman Seisme became the first Red & White Holstein cow to achieve the milestone rating.

In February, another MSG cow, Musqie Iatola Martha, became the youngest Jersey in history to achieve the 97 score.

Now, Holstein Association USA has bestowed the landmark classification to Weeks Dundee Anika — a black-and-white Holstein.

“When Martha reached EX-97, I described it as ‘lighting striking twice.’ It was unforgettable,” said John Vosters, MilkSource Genetics partner. “But doing it again? There simply aren’t words to describe it.”

It is believed there are fewer than six cows living in North America with EX-97 scores and MilkSource Genetics is home to three of them.

MilkSource Genetics Partner Jim Ostrom notes the milestone moment solidifies Anika’s global reputation. “She is an impeccably proportioned mature cow,” he said. “Anika, now 6 years old, was a good cow when we bought her as a Junior 2-year-old and, since then, she has continued developing beautifully.

“Of all the cows we’ve been part of, she has been an industry favorite among people we respect as passionate cow enthusiasts. Anika is a rare animal with fans worldwide.”

Classification is based on a true-type scoring system. Anika — like Seisme and Martha before her — is as close to the ideal standards as possible. “Anika has a striking dairy frame like few others in the breed,” Vosters explained. “Her combination of dairyness, balance and strength makes her very unique. She has correct feet and legs, along with a firmly attached udder. She has had five offspring and is considered an aged cow.”

Bolstering her success, Anika also has transmitted her winning ways to offspring that have already begun making their mark in the show ring. For instance, Anika’s granddaughter, Milksource Dempsey Amour, just returned from the 2018 Wisconsin State Holstein Show as the Honorable Mention Junior Champion and 1st Place Winter Calf.

“Anika’s not only cemented her own legacy, but she’s passing on those great diary genetics to future generations,” Ostrom said.

Basking in her herdmate’s glow is another MilkSource Genetics’ cow, TK-Plainview-Ripley, which saw her own classification climb to EX-96 just days after being named Grand Champion of the State Show.

“Whether in the show ring or in the barn, cows don’t achieve results like this without the hands-on care and dedication of a great herd team,” Ostrom said. “Our manager Eddie Bue, his wife and partner-in-cow-care, Mandi, and their entire team work hard every day to bring out the best in these amazing animals. Their love for these cows is evident every day.”

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Maharashtra govt prepares draft bill, outlines role of proposed cow … – The Indian Express

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |

Published: August 25, 2018 4:05:00 am

Maharashtra govt prepares draft bill, outlines role of proposed cow commission Officials from the state animal husbandry department said the proposed commission, to be headed by the animal husbandry minister, would be a 23-member body, including government officials and representatives from NGOs. (File photo)

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The government has prepared a draft bill to set up a Maharashtra Cow Service Commission with a view to prevent illegal cow slaughter, increase the breeding of local cows through gaushalas and monitor the functioning of gaushalas in the state. Besides, the draft bill says, the commission should suggest schemes to the government for the setting up of industries to “generate power and bio-gas from cow milk, urine and dung”.

Officials from the state animal husbandry department said the proposed commission, to be headed by the animal husbandry minister, would be a 23-member body, including government officials and representatives from NGOs. “The commission would be responsible for protecting cows seized by the police on suspicion of being taken for slaughter and for initiating legal action against those involved in such acts,” said an official.

The official added that the commission would be tasked with ensuring effective implementation of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995 and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. “The commission will have powers to impose a fine of Rs 50,000 for the first offence and Rs 1 lakh for the second offence for violations of the provisions of the bill under which it would be constituted,” said the official.

A senior official said the finance department has raised certain queries regarding the proposal, which was drafted late last year. “We will submit our response soon. The proposal will subsequently be presented to the state cabinet.”
Another official said the idea of such a commission was suggested after studying similar commissions functioning in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

“Apart from suggesting schemes to set up industries for generating power and biogas from cow milk, urine and dung, it will also coordinate with universities and research institutes to providing new scientific technologies and financial assistance to economically weaker gaushalas,” said the official.

The official added that it is proposed that the commission will work to increase the productivity of grazing land, to develop these and to encourage the breeding of local cows and milk production. “The gaushalas or any organisation working in the field will have to register themselves with the commission, which will monitor their work, carry out annual audits and can take action on complaints against these organisations. Overall, it will ensure the protection and development of cows in the state,” the official said.

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Milking it: Kiwi cows aren't what they used to be –

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Milking it: Kiwi cows aren't what they used to be
Today dairy scientists have worked out ingenious uses for whey such as lactose, which is one of the by-products that is now worth about $1.5 billion a year to the New Zealand dairy industry. Scottish settlers in Otago brought in the first ayrshire cow

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Negotiated Cull Cow Sales Up in July – Dairy Herd Management

Data from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service shows more cows than in recent years moving through markets for culls during July. Nearly all carcass grades (premium white, breaker, boner, and cutter) showed larger volumes compared to July of 2017. Nationally, the exception was premium white carcasses, cows with the most fat, which were down 19% year-over-year. Breakers showed the biggest volume, up 57% compared to last year, followed by boners up 19%, and cutters up 15%. Carcasses under 500lbs were more mixed. Cutters had the higher volumes, up 37% in those weighing 400-500 lbs. and those carcasses under 400 lbs. were up 45% in July compared to a year ago. Breakers under 500 lbs. were up 25%, and boners, were down 58% compared to a year ago. These volumes do not include imported slaughter cows.

July volumes also took a toll on cull cow dressed prices, both in the lighter weight categories and across all carcass grades. Carcasses over 500 lbs. faced lower prices of 10% of more than the year before. Breakers, Boners, and Cutters over 500 lbs. averaged about the same in July at around $122 per cwt. Premium whites were higher averaging $129 per cwt. Lighter carcasses (under 500 lbs.) faced even steeper price declines. Those prices fell by more than 13% compared to a year ago, with 400-500 lbs. cutters bringing the best price nationally of $118 in July.

Higher volumes of cull cows continue to pressure cull cow prices more than the decline in the boxed beef market. Cutter cow cutout volumes are down only 3.7% in July compared the double-digit declines in the dressed cow carcass prices. Still, with cutout values continuing to fall in August, and early weaning starting to take shape, there is likely be downside risk to these cull cow prices in the near future.

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Monaghan cow takes home Bailey's Champion Cow title –

Catherine Hurley

Drumlina Attwood Megan took home the Diageo Baileys Champion Cow Competition today at the 35 year of the Virginia Show, Co Cavan.

The syndicate-owned winner from Mulladuff, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan was also Reserve Champion in the Bailey Champion Cow competition last year.

Producing 10,261kgs of milk and 774kgs of milk solids in her last lactation, proved a worthy winner of the ‘super-milkers’ competition, the Judge said.

Judge David Hardson said he was looking for a well-balanced cow, with excellent legs and feet and above all an excellent mammary system. He said he was also looking for shorter cows, with a bit more style about them, a cow that would catch your eye coming into the ring.

Entry is exclusive to cows that produce more than 7,000kg of milk a year also producing 500kg of milk solids.

The competition has become well known within dairy breeding circles as the ‘highlight of a show-man’s year’.

Breeding a Diageo Baileys Champion is what every top Holstein Friesian breeder on this island aspires to achieve. The 5-way syndicate took home a trophy and €2,000 cash prize.

Reserve Champion was Milliedale Dusk Rhapsody from Donal and Kathleen Neville’s farm in Ballinaguilt, Croagh Co. Limerick, a fifth lactation cow producing 10,275kgs of milk last year.

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