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Dairy

Supporting the many dairy herds around the UK, Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture. Seeking to improve yield, efficiency and the welfare and wellbeing of our milking herds; collaborating and promoting novel technology and husbandry in partnership with farmers, scientists and retailers.

New venture for Agri-EPI at Dairy-Tech 2020

Agri-EPI is for the first time exhibiting at the major Dairy-Tech event

Taking place at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry on February 5, this one-day event showcases ground-breaking concepts and innovation.

Agri-EPI is teaming up with partners Glas Data and AgSenze to showcase technology at the event’s Innovation Hub – find them there at 10.55am.

Head of Dairy, Duncan Forbes, will be giving a talk about the ground-breaking activities taking place at the Agri-EPI South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, such as the use of 5G connectivity for improved health and welfare, precision grazing trials and automated milking systems.

The partners will also exhibit at the stand, where visitors can learn more about each company as well as new projects, trials and technologies supporting sustainable milk production.

Lisa Williams, Agri-EPI’s Director of Business Development said:

“We see this is a key event for us so are looking forward to being there. Due to the transformation in the dairy industry over recent years, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that farmers need to be competitive and irrespective of their system type and market they supply. Regardless of their cost base, future successful dairy businesses must be informed, resilient, proactive and efficient. Dairy-Tech provides this platform, alongside a recognition that dairy farming has become a professional industry.

If you would like more information about our presence at the show, please contact Lisa by email or phone: 07950 697 212.

Boosting livestock production efficiency with new project

A new project has been launched to boost production efficiency within the UK’s dairy-beef sector.

Livestock production

Well-Calf will develop precision technologies for optimising livestock production efficiency through improvements in health and management throughout an animal’s life.

Approximately 50% of beef production in the UK originates in the dairy herd. There is large variation in productive weight-for-age and health status of young calves entering rearing units from dairy farms.

As a result, disease incidence and antibiotic use is high. An animal’s early life health status influences it performance efficiency in later life. Projected industry losses due to suboptimal early-life management is £120M per year, while the impacts of disease costs the industry £80M per year.

To tackle such losses, Well-Calf will develop the first system for integrating data from different stages of a dairy-beef animal’s life through to slaughter, with an early-warning health detection system specifically designed for calves to detect diseases such as scour and pneumonia. The aim is that the cloud-based system, the first of its kind, will support decision making at various levels, from on-farm to wider farming policy and practice.

Jose Chitty, Chief of Operations for project lead Smartbell, said:

“We are very excited to work on calf health. Pneumonia and scours are the biggest calf killers and severely affect an animal’s lifetime productivity. Through the Well-Calf project we will directly address this problem and expect to increase productivity, improve welfare and reduce antibiotic usage.”

The project has won support totalling £1 million from UK Research and Innovation, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, as part of a package to support ‘Productive and Sustainable Crop and Ruminant Agricultural Systems’. It will run for two years. The lead of this livestock production project is Smartbell and the partners are Agri-EPI Centre, Co-op Food Group Ltd, Dunbia (England), Parklands Veterinary Ltd. and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

US Dairy Welfare expert speaks about animal health and welfare

There must be a move away from thinking of farm animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ as separate issues, for the benefit of both animals and productivity, according to renowned US dairy welfare expert Dr Jim Reynolds.

Speaking at a dairy research collaboration event hosted by Agri-EPI Centre, CIEL and VetPartners, Prof Reynolds said high welfare, achieved by being compassionate to the mental and physical condition of animals, must be regarded by all in the farming industry as being at the forefront of animal health.

Dr. Reynolds said: “If we are going to use animals for purposes, we must provide them with good lives. This involves considering if the animal has positive emotions – is happy – or if the animal is anxious, afraid or in pain. The science of animal welfare has progressed from focusing on reducing bad things that happen to animals to including what is necessary for an animal to have a good life.

“Providing animals with ‘good’ things such as clean, dry, and comfortable housing, also reduces the ‘bad’ things, such as disease and decreased production. We therefore need to bring the approach to animal ‘health’ and ‘welfare’ back together and build this into the cost of production.”

Dr Reynolds, a professor of large animal production at California’s Western University, is currently on a three-week tour of the UK, where he is speaking at various meetings and events.

He attended the collaboration meeting at Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, which was attended by 13 organisations and companies involved in dairy welfare.

Professor Reynolds stressed the importance of collaboration across research and industry to address welfare issues, a message which chimed with the participating researchers, vets and farmers.

Agri-EPI and CIEL have invested in new and complementary capabilities that are now available for the dairy sector to use in finding transformative solutions for this important sector.

Matt Dobbs,  Managing Director of Westpoint Veterinary Group and close partner of Agri-EPI Centre said: “I was pleased with Agri-EPI hosting leading dairy researchers from across the UK at the new state of the art Dairy Development Centre in Somerset. With a keynote speaker passionate about animal welfare and the backdrop of the new welfare focused Dairy Centre to stimulate discussion, we were delighted that the group committed to continue collaborating to further enhance the UK’s leading reputation for farm animal welfare. Key to the future will be the application of technology and the group agreed to focus on early detection of farm health and welfare issues.”

The meeting delegates were from:

  • Agri-EPI Centre
  • Farm Vets South West
  • CIEL
  • Kingshay
  • Bristol Vet School
  • Vet Partners
  • Innovate UK
  • Duchy College
  • West Point Vets
  • Aberystwyth University
  • Queen’s University, Belfast
  • Steanbow Farms
  • University of Nottingham

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

ATOS Digital Vision for Farming: Dairy farm of the future

Agri-EPI Centre Project Manager Duncan Forbes is featured in a new Digital Vision for Farming opinion paper produced by Atos, a global leader in digital transformation. Through expert contributions, including a welcome from George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the paper outlines key challenges and the role of digital solutions in meeting the Government’s policy goals in supporting the UK’s food, farming and environment industries. Duncan is featured talking about the benefits to the dairy sector of measurement and data analytics.

Duncan leads Agri-EPI’s new South West Dairy Development Centre, a state-of-the-art, 180-cow dairy in Somerset. Funded by Innovate UK, the £1.36 million facility provides a platform for the industry and partners to develop, trial and share new technologies and techniques supporting sustainable and profitable dairy farming.

The Centre embodies Agri-EPI’s overall aim of accelerating the adoption of productivity-boosting precision farming by providing world-class R&D; connecting academia and industry; and progressing next generation technologies.

An excerpt from Duncan’s feature is reproduced below:

Dairy farm of the future

For dairy farms, using analytics and capturing more data about both the animals and their environment will deliver gains right across the board, from better productivity and animal health to higher work satisfaction and more effective environmental management.

At the heart of any successful dairy enterprise is precision management in two key domains. Firstly, the wellbeing of the cows: healthy cows are essential to healthy dairy businesses, enabling them to continue to invest inwardly and in the environment. Secondly, the welfare of the people looking after the animals: labour is one of the biggest costs of milk production and to get the best return on that investment, we need to maintain an industry in which skilled people want to work. At the same time, to fulfil their wider land stewardship responsibilities, farming operations must be profitable and sustainable.

Measure to manage

Critical to effective herd management is timely decision-making based on accurate and detailed information. It’s estimated that while 25% of the average herd are replaced annually, nearly three quarters of those losses are avoidable. Yet with milk producers and herd managers increasingly stretched, taking consistent measurements can be time-consuming. That’s where connected technologies and automation can make all the difference. It’s not unusual for six hours a day to be spent milking on a traditional dairy farm. Robotic milkers release all that ‘milk harvesting’ time for skilled workers to focus on animal welfare, while the robot milkers continue recording detailed data 24/7 about each cow’s health and milk. These robotics can be integrated with automated feeding systems, which also release significant amounts of time and optimise feed use, together with sensors outside and inside that improve precision grazing by measuring and managing the environment and each cow’s nutritional needs.

Emerging technologies

These kinds of technologies are in place at the South West Dairy Development Centre, which was set up to create a vision of the future for dairy farming, as well as operating as a commercially viable enterprise and acting as one of three testbeds for the 5G RuralFirst project. This was established to exploit the huge opportunities that 5G connectivity can provide for rural businesses. The Centre has demonstration and research facilities for emerging technologies that will help UK dairying meet some of its most important challenges.

Read more

To read the full interview with Duncan, download the full Digital Vision paper.


Source: Atos

Launch of South West Dairy Development Centre

Agri-EPI Centre has launched its state-of-the-art South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, which aims to offer a fresh vision for sustainable UK milk production.

The £1.36 million, 180-cow dairy unit provides a truly innovative environment for the development, testing and demonstration of new technologies and techniques to support sustainable, efficient and high health and welfare milk production.

The centre combines innovative building design and management systems to create a highly efficient, low cost dairy system, with the capital cost of developing the dairy from scratch amounting to less that £8,000 per cow. The centre’s remit is to offer a platform for industry to trial and review new ideas for the benefit of dairy farmers throughout the UK.

Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI project manager for the new centre said:

Our mantra here is, ‘measure it to manage it’. Sensor technology is being used to gather data to enable us to maximise precision in many aspects of feeding, production, health and welfare across the farm: indoors and outdoors, by satellite, and on and inside the cows. The automation of many processes within the dairy releases skilled staff to devote more of their time to cow health and welfare.

Precision grazing is at the top of the centre’s agenda. While the number of robotic dairies in the UK continues to increase, and it is recognised that grass can be a least-cost feed for dairy herds, successful grazing has been difficult to implement on many robotic units.

The new centre aims to tackle this by using emerging technology such as hyperspectral imaging and satellite data to monitor and predict grass growth in its surrounding paddocks, allowing the herd access to up to three fresh areas of grazing per day. A network of tracks and flexible paddocks encourage cow flow between the between the paddocks and the robot milkers.

A number of trials are already underway or planned for the centre. It is one of three UK ‘testbeds’ for the 5G RuralFirst project, the UK’s most ambitious connectivity project. Led by Cisco and involving a consortium of partners it aims to demonstrate how connectivity will benefit rural communities and business across the UK. A number of technologies utilising 5G data are to be trialled, including cow collars, monitoring health and welfare, digital systems to monitor cow fertility through milk analysis and, in the future, a ‘virtual vet’ system connecting stockpeople to a vet using augmented reality.

The South West Dairy Development Centre has been established in close partnership with independent dairy specialists Kingshay, who manage the facility. The Centre has been established by Agri-EPI using funding from Innovate UK and support from industry partners.

Welcoming the Centre’s launch today at an event attended by figures from industry, academia and government, Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead, said:

The new South West Dairy Centre fits very well with Innovate UK’s vision to support the development and adoption of new technologies to help UK farming become more sustainable, efficient and profitable. It is good that the new centre is now operational and we hope it will become a central resource for use by the UK dairy industry.

A dairy farm fit for the future

The South West Dairy Development Centre, Agri-EPI’s new dairy farm of the future, is located in an important milk producing region, home to nearly 25% of dairy cows in Great Britain. The farm provides a platform to test and demonstrate new and emerging technologies. Agri-EPI Centre commissioned one of their core industrial partners – independent dairy specialist Kingshay – to design, build and operate a state-of-the-art dairy for research and development, with funding from Innovate UK and industry partners. The centre combines state-of-the-art, high welfare cow housing and milking facilities with precision grazing.

 

Key objectives

The new dairy has four key objectives:

  1. To demonstrate profitable and resource efficient milk production;
  2. Integrate robotic milking with precision grazing;
  3. Use the latest technology available to support animal welfare and sustainable milk production;
  4. To provide state-of-the-art facilities to industry supporters for near market research, development and demonstration.

Dairy Development Centres

The South West Dairy Development Centre is one of three Dairy Development Centres of excellence that Agri-EPI Centre is establishing, for research, development and demonstration with both national and international reach and influence. The Centres provide a showcase for new ideas and technologies to generate a vibrant and sustainable route to efficient milk production. The new facilities will provide a platform for industry to trial latest ideas and connect with farmers across the UK. The three sites are based at:

  1. Kingshay in the South West: Integrating robotic milking and precision grazing;
  2. Harper Adams in Shropshire: Combining robotic milking with adaptable housing;
  3. SRUC in Dumfries: Optimising cow comfort with robotic milking;
  4. Further dairy facilities are established on commercial farms as part of the Agri-EPI Centre network of satellite farms.

Demonstration and test bed facilities: 5G RuralFirst

A key element of the dairy centre will be to provide state-of-the-art demonstration facilities with visitor access and high-speed connectivity to exploit the benefits of remote access. The dairy is one of the three test beds for the recently announced 5G RuralFirst project which will exploit the massive opportunities for improved connectivity offered to rural business by the next generation of mobile signal.

Further enquiries

Read more about the technologies of the new centre here. For more information about the South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, please get in touch with us:

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.