Edinburgh agritech firm to shake up dairy industry

CowAlert employs a rear leg-based sensor for continual monitoring. Picture: contributed.
CowAlert employs a rear leg-based sensor for continual monitoring. Picture: contributed.
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An Edinburgh-based agritech firm that specialises in tracking dairy cow behaviour has launched a bespoke application touted as a “single solution for daily cow monitoring and research”.

IceRobotics claimed its CowAlert for Researchers tech would for the first time let the agri-research market access, control and analyse “unparalleled” amounts of data.

It added that the application, which is already being trialled in Europe, the United States and New Zealand, offers real-time data gathering and analysis.

The latest offering scales up the power of CowAlert’s monitoring and alerting modules, enabling researchers to control and analyse their own data or combine it with information from a large number of commercial farms.

IceRobotics said the product offers researchers what it calls a less labour-intensive monitoring system that can be tailored to their own specific requirements. A unique feature “is that it enables researchers to control the data collated by CowAlert and export it out of their own system, allowing for data merging and larger scale statistical analysis,” the firm also said.

It comes after the company in 2014 secured £1.1 million from Innovate UK, following the £500,000 it received two years earlier from what is now known as the same body. The firm also won the John Logie Baird Award for innovation in 2011.

IceRobotics, which started trading in 2002, also commented that its technology has been available commercially to farmers for seven years, and uses a “unique” rear leg-based sensor to monitor the health, lameness and fertility of each animal.

It then alerts the farmer to any potential issues, “significantly enhancing health and productivity through better decision-making”.

The firm also said the launch of CowAlert for Researchers “takes the product to a new level, giving the research community access to the hours of data already stored in the CowAlert cloud, which they can analyse in their own way”.

Catherine Malcolm, research sales and support, said: “This system is effectively transforming the way dairy research is done. With the ability to export and analyse large volumes of data, it makes the job of large-scale dairy research much easier and more efficient. In essence it offers vast amounts of useful data at the press of a button – at any time and in any place.

“Having worked at the forefront of dairy research for over 15 years, we are very excited about this new product and we are in discussions with many of the world’s leading research institutions who are keen to explore how CowAlert for Researchers can help them achieve their goals. “

She added: “We are committed to providing monitoring solutions which improve livestock wellbeing, whilst helping farmers and researchers to make better decisions with useful, timely data.

“We look forward to working with researchers across the globe as we continue to better understand livestock behaviour and create a more sustainable dairy industry.”

Other milestones in the company’s history include securing an £180,000 seed investment in 2008 to support its management buy-out and company re-structure.