By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario
“A dairy farmer, an engineer and an accountant walk into a barn…”
That’s the setup for Dairy Quality Inc., a Queensville, Ontario-based company that prides itself on creating high tech solutions to meet dairy farming challenges. The company’s latest product is an innovative new device that gives dairy farmers instant updates on a cow’s health and milk quality.
With the RT10 device and Dairy SCC app, farmers use a mobile fluorescent microscope connected to a smart phone to test milk samples from individual cows. The device works with an iPhone app to provide real-time readings of specific health indicators, including somatic cell count (SCC), which is the most important indication of dairy cow health.
“Currently, dairy farmers across North America receive a monthly report from Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) that indicates SCC data,” says Chris Gans, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dairy Quality Inc. “Our product doesn’t replace that service, but a lot can happen on a dairy farm in 30 days. Dairy SCC offers farmers the ability to have more immediate information relating to the health of each individual cow.”
SCC monitoring is important because high numbers of somatic cells indicate the presence of pathogens and toxins. Infection can lead to tissue damage in a cow’s udder, as well as a decline in milk production. Dairy SCC allows farmers to detect even minor elevations in SCC when they’re at the sub-clinical level.
“When infections are detected early, cows can be treated faster. Since the data is instantly available on an iPhone or iPod, it can be emailed to a vet right away,” says Gans. “The farmer and the vet can come up with a treatment strategy together, addressing problems before they get worse.”
Gans says in the future, Dairy SCC will offer other valuable insights on milk samples too. Pathogen identification, ketosis levels, and other indicators are valuable to have instant access to so farmers can make the best herd health management decisions.
It’s all part of a technology trend known as “edge computing”, which focuses on computing applications and data using mobile technology.
“Our goal as a company is to bring mobile technology to the dairy farm and push edge computing in the dairy industry to support the emerging concept of precision dairy farming,” says Gans. “Milk prices in many parts of the world are volatile, and the healthier the animals, the more milk they can produce.”
Dairy Quality Inc. received funding from Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, which is supported by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.