Updated: Mar 31, 2021
A New Tool to Help Deal with Mastitis
Onfarm Solutions are at it again, this feisty little Agritech company continues to engage with the dairying world delivering automation for the modern dairy farmer. Mastitis has always been the target, here is another product aimed in that direction.
Finally, Onfarm Solutions have turned their hand to an in-race teat sprayer to serve herringbone and parallel milking parlours across the world. By no means a new concept, in-race or walkover systems have been around for years, characterised by a lack of accuracy, and high teat spray usage. These systems would typically spray the cows bellies or spray the face of the next cow in line, often missing the udder and teats altogether.
To mitigate the accuracy issues high volumes of teat spray product were applied in the hope that some of it would hit the target.
As a response Onfarm Solutions have developed the Teatwand Stepover System, I asked Gary Arnott the founder and CEO why he hadn’t done it already.
’It’s always been on our radar, a stepover system that would actually work’’ he says.
‘’We’ve never thought it would be easy, to come up with an accurate, reliable, cost effective way to do it that doesn't waste huge amounts of expensive teat spray.
When Covid hit, our R&D team were busy on another big and complex project for the USA market. The preliminary work had started on a dairy farm in California. We planned to have at least one team member onsite at any one time in California for at least a month, collecting data, perfecting the software, monitoring performance and reporting back on progress. That project came to a screaming halt. Bloody annoying’’ says Gary.
So the focus of the R&D team moved to the Stepover, a system we could develop here in New Zealand for the home and global market. It’s been over 12 months now that we’ve been working on this. More than one of the ideas we tried failed! Lessons learned’’ Arnott asserts.
Automation around animals presents its own set of unique challenges, especially when the animal is moving at whatever pace it chooses. Cows are big animals, prone to unintentionally bumping into things and stomping on stuff, and they have some unseemly toilet habits, so equipment has to be designed and built to deal with whatever the cow throws at it.
The Teatwand Stepover System is designed for an environment Onfarm Solutions know well. Extremes are many, from 600kg+ unpredictable four legged defecating animals moving at will, to 24/7 operations in many places around the world, to many different climatic conditions. Cows, like us, are all different. Different shapes, different temperaments, different behavior, automation would be a whole lot easier were they all clones.
So, the R&D team at Onfarm Solutions were up against it.
Arnott says, ‘’Sensor technology is developing very quickly. New features expand the possibilities, new ways to do things are continuously happening. Combine this with intelligent programming, sound engineering principles, dedicated after sales support and the right people to do all of that and we have a winner’’.
Trials of the many versions of the Teatwand Stepover System have been ongoing at a North Canterbury farm over the past 12 months. A final design has been settled on and the software has been exhaustively tested. Hours of data has been collected and analyzed. The next step is to get a few more of these systems installed locally to prove all expectations before rolling it out to the world.
‘’Interest locally here in New Zealand and worldwide has been very encouraging’’ says Gary. ‘’We've been talking to our dealers all over the place about this new system for a while now and the response has been really good. We now have forward orders from many of our dealers, local and international. That’s encouraging.’’
Modern farmers today expect to be connected to their technology. Onfarm Solutions are responding to this, rolling out online dashboards to all of the Teatwand Products the Teatwand Stepover System is included in this with an option for data to be delivered to the user providing real time alerts, cow flow information, teat spray usage and information around the efficiency of milking sessions.
We have officially launched the Teatwand Stepover System at the South Island Field days in Kirwee, New Zealand, last week. Onfarm Solutions have a couple of US dealers who want to trial these systems in their market. That will happen soon, and then Onfarm Solutions will roll out this new product across the world.