Evaluating the effectiveness of an automated health data collection solution

The implementation of health data collection is an important step in the development of precision technologies. Based on cattle health data, conclusions can be made about the animal, the herd, and the entire dairy sector (big data). In continuation of the development of the concept of the implant for the collection of health data, the efficiency of the new technical solution and its components will be evaluated in animal experiments of a long-term clinical study. Their main objective is to investigate and evaluate the suitability of using a subcutaneous, remotely read, automatic temperature sensor to collect reliable body temperature data in calves and cows. Significantly earlier and more accurate detection of diseases in calves and cows thanks to automated health monitoring should lead to a reduction in diseases. Identifying a newly infected animal by observation in larger groups of animals is difficult. Calves often hide the initial signs of illness, and checking the health of each individual animal is time-consuming and subjective. Growing labor shortages have put livestock farming under pressure anyway, so individual monitoring is not possible on many farms. Often, the animal has to be fixed for inspection, which in turn creates additional stress for the animal. Therefore, measuring an animal’s body temperature from a distance would improve their monitoring,  well-being and also enable improving the economic results of companies. In animal husbandry, the average size of the farm is increasing, which is why the creation and introduction of effective herd-based solutions is becoming more and more important.

Innovation activity is divided into four major parts:

  • Application of clinical trial permit
  • Pilot study
  • Durability study I
  • Durability study II

A clinical trial permit (No. 161) has been applied for and received to conduct an animal experiment. The latter process involves a very thorough preparation in order to obtain approval from the clinical trial committee for large animal testing.

At the first a four-month pilot study has been prepared and conducted. In order to start the durability study, a pilot study confirmed that the tested temperature sensors do not harm the animals nor cause them suffering. This is an important principle in the organization of all animal experiments. Durability study I,  started in 2020. The action plan has been updated, the organisation of further technical support has been resolved and data analysis has started. Durability study II,  started in 2022. Both durability studies are carried out in Estonian farms, so that the conditions of the experiment correspond to the conditions of everyday animal farms.

The innovation activity is carried out as a four-year joint effort between Estonian Dairy Cluster, the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Competence Centre on Health Technologies