'Smart collars' for dairy's digital transition

Government backs smart collars to get dairy industry moving ahead

Machinery
The Semex AI24 smart collars can identify sick cows one to three days sooner than a physical evaluation.

The Semex AI24 smart collars can identify sick cows one to three days sooner than a physical evaluation.

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The Semex Ai24 collars use real time data for whole herd management - informing farmers with vital information on their cattle's health and nutrition.

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A nifty buckled device to help you better manage health and productivity sounds like a slick watch you'd see on a busy person's wrist.

But thanks to a government grant, more of Queensland's dairy cows will be sporting the modern look.

'Smart collars' are being rolled out by the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation under a $200,000 digital transformation grant by the Palaszczuk government.

The Semex Ai24 collars use real time data for whole herd management - informing farmers of vital information on their cattle's health and nutrition.

Semex Australia's national dairy manager Vaughn Johnston said the collars completely change how cow health is managed and allow for greater reproduction performance.

The collars can reduce cow stress by lowering lock-up times.

The collars can reduce cow stress by lowering lock-up times.

"With the collars, we can identify illness up to 48 hours before a we would usually see a clinical case," Mr Johnston said.

"We can analyse the outliers for a health perspective.

"This technology means farmers can opt for a preventative treatment rather than a responsive treatment."

Mr Johnston said the collars are designed to be practical rather than just looking good.

A transitioning industry

QDO president Brian Tessmann said the government grant will support a $646,880 digital herd monitoring project that will:

  • provide financial assistance and support for 10 producers to implement the technology and establish producer demonstration sites where farmers can share learning and see the technology in action;
  • deliver regional industry training workshops in the Darling Downs, Scenic Rim, Sunshine Coast, Burnett and Tablelands Region;

"This is a great advance in animal health and welfare for the dairy industry and a valuable tool for farmers as the technology monitors individual cows and the herd to provide health and reproduction alerts, allowing for the early detection of anything that may be making the animal uncomfortable," Mr Tessmann said.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the government backed the 'smart collars' as part of it's COVID recovery plan.

"These grants were established under Queensland's Economic Recovery Plan to help farmers to access new opportunities," Mr Furner said.

He said a total of $5.5 million was being invested over three years through the initiative.

"This funding, as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, will support agribusinesses to become digitally aware and ready to respond to future disruptions," Mr Furner said.

"Digital technology creates new ways of doing things that add value to the agricultural sector by working more precisely, efficiently and sustainably.

"It offers innovative ways to connect producers to consumers, reduce problems related to remoteness in rural communities, and attract the next generation to jobs in the industry."

Mr Furner said there was strong interest from industry in the first round of the program.

"There were 22 applications and the diversity of project proposals demonstrates the opportunities digital technologies create for the sector," he said.

"Under a co-investment model, grants of up to $200,000 were offered for projects that enhance digital skills, drive business efficiencies and create regional jobs across Queensland.

"The approved grants of $1.045 million are for projects that use a range of technologies including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, intelligent apps, big data, automation, artificial intelligence and sensors."

The story 'Smart collars' for dairy's digital transition first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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