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A look at animal health - taking control of working processes

The wellbeing and health of calves are of critical importance for the effectiveness of milk production, as the development of the animals in the first weeks of their lives has a lasting impact on realization of the genetically predisposed yield potential.

 

At this year's EuroTier trade show, Förster-Technik GmbH will be showcasing its enhanced 40FIT feeding concept, which is designed to achieve optimum results in rearing young calves, and is extending its product range for calf rearing with the Smart Calf System combined with the smart Generation 2.0 automatic feeders. All innovations are presented in Hall 13/E21.

 

In conjunction with the automatic feeders of the new smart-generation 2.0 animal health is monitored more intensively with Smart Calf System. Moreover, new tools for the organization, implementation and documentation of workflows in calf rearing are introduced. The data flow together on the internet in the so-called "CalfCloud" under www.calf-cloud.com. There clear lists are available. Another new feature is sending messages relating to the status of the animals or automatic feeders to smartphones. For example, a level indicator sensor located on the powder hopper detects when milk powder has to be refilled, and sends this information directly to the user. In conjunction with "CalfApp" and "CalfCloud" of Förster-Technik GmbH it is therefore possible to talk about agriculture 4.0 also in the calf rearing sector.

 

The Smart Calf System is made up of the "Smart Drink Station", "Smart Neckband", and "Smart Water Station" modules.

Smart Drink Station

Smart Drink Station is an advanced version of a feeding station linked to the Förster-Technik automatic feeders. The teat is movable and for the first time spring mounted. This enables the calf to execute its natural suckling action as it would on a cow which is an indicator of calf’s vitality. These movements are recorded electronically during suckling via acceleration sensors and transmitted to the automatic feeder. Combined with other data determined in the Smart Calf System, this provides valuable insights into the animal's health and development. As an additional “smart" feature of the new feeding station a temperature sensor is integrated directly on the teat. Thus, too cold or too hot portions can be prevented.

 

An automatic cleaning of the suction hose is provided, too. This is achieved via a switch valve directly on the teat. Thus, no uncleaned spots remain in the milk line, and no milk must be pumped in a circle. The new Smart Drink Station is also available for folding up. Especially with all-in / all-out housing systems this function saves labor because the manure removal by means of a front loader is facilitated.

Smart Neckband

Smart Neckband is a fitness collar for calves.
Förster-Technik GmbH presents in Hannover a highly innovative electronic collar first time specifically for calves. The collars have a radio link to the automatic feeder or via an Internet gateway to the cloud. Together with the Smart Drink Station and the automatic feeders they enable automated monitoring of the health and development of the  calves. An indicator LED and a feedback button on the collar allow simple and effective workflows.

 

An acceleration sensor continuously records the calf's activity. This is combined with the data from the automatic feeders and the acceleration data of the teat in the Smart Drink Station to enable conclusions about the health and development state of each animal.

 

An LED light on top of the neck section can be controlled by the system and provides the farmer with access to variable information directly on the animal. For example, this allows alarm animals, animals with an increased risk of illness, or animals for treatment to be easily identified by lighting of the LEDs. The system is also suitable for easy search of individual animals in the group, by showing the number of the animal and the LED light will light up there. These functions are possible on the handheld of the automatic feeder or on the Förster-Technik "CalfApp".

Performance of control or treatment measures can be confirmed using a magnetic switch directly on the neckband. The confirmation is sent back by radio. This ensures immediate and error-free documentation without any additional work. The collars can be used for new calves repeatedly; the battery may be changed by the user. With the Smart Neckband each calf is equipped with sensors and workflow components, with full access from the personal CalfCloud of the farmer. Thus, in reference to the term "Internet of things" here we can speak about the "Internet of calves".

Smart Water Station

Smart Water Station is a waterer with electronic animal detection and water measurement, which determines the water amount consumed and the drinking speed for each animal. These indicators provide information about possible risks of illness and also the development of the forestomach system. This enables individual animals to be weaned according to their solid feed intake. The function is also useful for the time after weaning. Possible integration of animal scales offers further opportunities for automated health and development monitoring in the period up to the first insemination. The data are transmitted to the “CalfCloud”.

The Smart Calf System has innovative tools to support management. They reduce the workload, increase production reliability, and contribute to a further overall improvement in animal wellbeing and health.