Farm technology: ‘fitbits’ for cattle and sheep
Dairy, beef and sheep farms have been trialling high-tech gadgets for an Australian university.

Wearable technology has become de rigueur for humans, with gadgets available to monitor and measure every move you make and every minute you sleep.

However, this area of technology is not just limited to humans. An Australian university has developed wearable motion sensors for livestock.

The aim is to help farmers better understand the health and behaviour patterns of livestock and make informed decisions when it comes to their animals.

Human factor

Dr Aniruddha Desai, director of the Centre for Technology Infusion at La Trobes University in Melbourne, said: “The next generation of low-cost and low-weight sensors and the data they provide can bring the human factor back into farming.

“In the past, farmers got to know the habits of their individual animals. However, with large-scale farming, that is now impossible and current systems such as video monitoring are highly inaccurate.”

Science leader for the programme, Dr Markandeya Jois says the study has been carried out over the past three years on three different farms: a dairy farm, a sheep farm and a beef farm.

Mortality

“Our work has shown the potential of such technology to address important industry problems in Australia, such as high lamb mortality rate in sheep and improving feed efficiency and pasture utilisation in both dairy and beef industries,” explained Jois.

While there is no release date at present, it won’t be long until the new gadget will be on the market.

“Response from the farmers with whom we’ve worked has been unanimously positive and we are now seeking commercial partners to help make this technology a reality,” Desai said.

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DeLaval launches new rotary parlour
DeLaval has said its latest rotary milking parlour will focus on labour efficiency at a time when labour is becoming increasingly challenging for dairy farmers.

DeLaval has launched a new rotary parlour in Ireland and the UK. The E100 rotary is focused around animal welfare, milk quality, farm profitability and work efficiency, according to DeLaval.

Gary Edwards, CMS Solutions manager, stated: “The DeLaval E100 rotary has been designed around the customer’s and the animal’s needs. It has been designed as a complete milking system focussing on cow flow, cow comfort, efficiency and comfort for the milker.

“Combined with DelPro™ herd management software, it really offers the farmer complete control of his herd, making it easier for him to make management decisions. When working in conjunction with the unique DeLaval teat spray robot, it is incredibly labour efficient when labour is becoming increasingly challenging for dairy farmers.”

The parlour, DeLaval says, encourages calm cow flow by utilising a low-profile bail. Rapid entry and exit from the parlour is also prioritised in order to improve throughput. The parlour can be operated by one person, something DeLaval says can improve work efficiency.

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New parlour making waves in Kerry

Cows loose on Meath road
Motorists travelling on the R154 near Kiltale, Co Meath, are advised there are reports of cows loose on the road.

The AA roadwatch has received reports of cows loose along a regional road in Co Meath. The incident has been reported near Kiltale on the Trim/Batterstown road (R154).

The reports were recieved at 8.30am and gardaí are en-route to deal with the situation.

Widespread drop in points for agricultural courses
A number of agricultural science courses across the country have seen a reduction in the 2018 entry points requirement, as students opt for engineering courses.

Agricultural courses have seen a widespread drop in points, as many students opt for construction-orientated courses. Over 50,000 students will receive first-round higher-education offers today after getting their Leaving Cert results last week.

Agricultural courses at UCD, Dundalk IT and IT Tralee all experienced drops. General entry to agricultural science at UCD dropped by just four points to 451 but agri-environmental science fell by 20 points. Dairy business went in the opposite direction moving up to 30 points to 432. IT Tralee courses had some of the largest drops, with its Level 8 agricultural science course falling by 16 points and its Level 7 equivalent falling by 33 points.

Waterford IT was one of the few colleges to buck the trend, with both Level 8 and Level 7 agriculture courses jumping by 14 points and 18 points respectively. Agricultural engineering at Galway-Mayo IT saw a significant increase of 25 points.

Engineering

The increase in interest in engineering courses was reflected across the board. For general engineering courses at UCD, Trinity and NUI Galway points are up from anywhere between 10 and 30. It is likely this has been driven by the rising demand from industry for people with those skills.

Construction management at Dublin IT increased by 20 points to 346, while project and construction management at NUI Galway jumped a massive 32 points to reach 402.

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