To save time and improve animal welfare, scientists from Mendel University’s Faculty of Agronomy have designed a dairy cow movement control system. Photo credit: Freepik
Czech Republic, June 8 (BD) – In recent years, labor shortages have significantly affected the livestock sector. Automating some processes can be a way to solve the problem. Scientists from the Faculty of Agronomy at Mendel University have designed a system for automatically controlled movement of dairy cows from the barn to the milking point and back, which not only saves time, but also contributes to a better animal welfare. The innovation was tested in the agricultural cooperative which appeared in the cult Czech comedy Vesničko má středisková.
“The rearing of dairy cows with milk production is one of the most complex production processes, requiring a large amount of human labor. The aim of our project was to create a technological device that would ensure the controlled movement of dairy cows from the barn to the milking parlor and back without the need for human factors,” said Daniel Falta, vice-dean of the faculty of agronomy of MENDELU. . In normal operation, cows must be driven to the milking parlor by farm employees. The researchers tested and introduced a new variant; when the animals are taken out for milking, a chain conveyor is lowered into the barn, which, accompanied by an acoustic signal, begins to move slowly from one side of the section to the other, towards a door with automatic opening leading to the milking parlour. The cows will then move about without human assistance and will only encounter humans for the first time in the milking parlour.
This not only saves human labor, but is also more comfortable for the cows. In many cases, the human presence has a rather negative effect. “Sometimes the employees themselves are nervous, which shows in the way they yell at the animals or treat them inappropriately. The elimination of stress is crucial for dairy cattle farms. Stress has a negative effect on milk production in lactating cows. Also, animals are more likely to fall and injure themselves or damage their hooves, for example when trying to move quickly,” Falta said.
Experts launched the new system exactly one year ago. “It’s already clear that automation has proven itself. The main advantage is the general calming of the cows during the movement. Our theoretical hypothesis that automation would make animals more relaxed was confirmed. The cows don’t take the machine as the aggressor, which makes things much easier,” Falta said. The whole process of re-educating the cows to the new system took no more than a week, as most of them reacted to opening the gate itself, and the usual milking time was also important to them.
The installation of the technological equipment in the barn included a partial experiment. In it, the researchers assessed how the system affects overall cow travel time, milking time, amount of milk produced, and animal heart rate. The results of the experiment showed that the unattended system did not conclusively slow down the milking process, but rather led to calmer animals during milking and, therefore, higher milk production. “We can therefore say that not only has human labor been spared and productivity increased, but also that the system has contributed to more relaxed cows, which are able to produce more milk because they are not stressed,” Falta said.
After a year of live operation, the “tweaking” is not over. “We are planning further developments and improvements to make the technology more autonomous and intelligent. For example, by adapting their speed to the movement of the cows or by stopping in front of an obstacle,” added Falta.https://brnodaily.com/2022/07/08/news/automation-helps-to-increase-animal-welfare-on-czech-farms/https://brnodaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/farmer-cattleman-walking-through-domestic-animals-farm-with-tablet-and-observing-cows-1024×683.jpghttps://brnodaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/farmer-cattleman-walking-through-domestic-animals-farm-with-tablet-and-observing-cows-150×100.jpgCzech Republic / WorldAnimal welfare,Czech Republic,Farms,Nature,ScienceTo save time and improve animal welfare, scientists from Mendel University’s Faculty of Agronomy have designed a dairy cow movement control system. Photo credit: FreepikCzech Republic, June 8 (BD) – In recent years, labor shortages have significantly affected animal husbandry…Elisa Pinton
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