Herd management in livestock production

The challenge

In the field of livestock production, e.g. in the keeping of dairy cattle, herd management systems are used to manage the animal population and to control or optimise the processes in the production operation. While the identity of the animals and the feed delivery are already recorded electronically, the detection of abnormalities in development or behaviour requires the observation skills of experienced animal keepers. An automated 24/7 monitoring of each individual animal and all environmental parameters is desirable without installing a complex and personnel-intensive IT structure in the breeding operation.


The solution:

IIoT Guidance conducts several workshops to identify the needs of the company. The aim is firstly to draw up a technical concept for the technical IIoT retrofitting of the existing barn and secondly to specify the cloud-based herd management system .

A battery-powered Smart Sensor collar (e.g. with MEMS acceleration sensors, temperature sensors, GPS and a data acquisition unit) is used to record the activity (movement vs. rest or sleep phases) and physiological parameters (e.g. body temperature) of each animal.
In combination with stationary sensors, e.g. at the feed or milking parlour, feed intake and milk yield can also be recorded individually. A later retrofitting of the barn system with additional sensors and actuators (e.g. for controlling and monitoring radiant heaters) can be easily realised .

Collection points such as feeding stalls, drinking troughs or milking parlours are an ideal location for the wireless reading of data from the collar e.g. via Bluetooh LE or Zigbee .

The collected sensor data are pre-processed stationary. From the temporal variation of the movement activity, e.g. main characteristics such as time and duration of activity and rest phases of each animal can be determined. In this way, the resulting data from the various sensors (collar and stationary) are condensed to a reasonable level.

One gateway is installed per stable, which securely transfers the pre-processed data to the cloud via Internet connection (cable or WLAN) .

The data is transferred to a secure cloud. In this cloud, the information of several livestock buildings can be combined .

A cloud-based herd management system enables the management of the animal population including all animal management processes (feeding, vaccination, etc.). Intelligent algorithms indicate when individual animals deviate from the norm. This enables the detection of disease or oestrus. Statistical evaluations over several barns and longer periods of time help to optimise feeding and husbandry conditions .

A cloud-based herd management system can be accessed from any Internet-enabled device (mobile phone, tablet, PC). The different user groups (management, animal keeper, veterinarian, etc.) are given secure access to the required parts of the cloud application.

The installation of the receivers and gateways at typical collection points (e.g. drinking troughs) is a one-off requirement. The collars for identification and behaviour monitoring of the animals are provided by the supplier and put on the animals by the user on site.  The parameterisation and optimisation of the algorithms as well as a system briefing is carried out by IIoT Guidance. For the maintenance of the system (e.g. battery replacement and testing of transponders), it is planned that local partners will take over customer service and support on site.

The result:

The combination of cloud-based herd management and the use of Smart-Sensor transponders on the collar of the farm animals makes it possible to easily digitalise the barn via IIoT solution without the need for IT knowledge on the part of the breeding company. The data generated will not only be used to manage the animal population and control processes, but also to optimise housing conditions and monitor the health status of each animal in a herd. There are also user benefits outside of the livestock farm, e.g. when selected long-term data is made available to feed manufacturers or research institutions.