Even though this compelling development is still in its infancy, one fact is already undeniable: the increased utilization of sensory equipment and state-of-the-art technology will improve the farmers ability to stay on top of the condition and well-being of every single cow.
On an international scale, this new technology is widely discussed at many conferences – just as smartphone use is becoming more prevalent every day, technical innovations are a phenomenon ever more commonly found in cow barns, which may ultimately lead to a change in farm/cow herd management that is fundamentally different from the state of the art we know today. The term "Precision Dairy Farming" is used to describe the targeted use of new technology in an effort to enhance today's management systems
Typical examples that have become widely known are automatic milking systems as well as the automatic calf feeder and the pedometer. However, this list is not nearly complete and contains a host of other impressive innovations: Rumination measurements, daily milk and ingredient measurements, daily body weight measurements and precision feeding are also techniques that are already commonly applied on today's farms.
Another area that will almost certainly see additional innovation is video technology. Initial attempts to detect lameness in cows by recording video have already been made during applications in the real world.
The general goal behind these new technologies is to improve the health of the animals while making the farmer's life more convenient at the same time. Making efficient use of the new techniques on the farms requires that a host of data not only be collected but also be converted into meaningful information by applying the right technology. Otherwise, farmers will run the risk of drowning in a flood of data. While new technologies will never replace the caregiver's "comprehension of the cow", they can support the caregiver in a purposeful way by providing him with real-time information about his animals, allowing him to arrive at faster and better decisions when it comes to health, productivity and profitability.
It is likely that "cow experts" are the group that will benefit the most from the introduction of new techniques. However, Precision Dairy Farming has not found its way into mainstream dairy farming yet - when asked in an international survey why they have so far abstained from implementing new technologies into their operations, the most common reasons given by farmers operating in this field were: lack of sufficient information as to which technologies are available; the cost-to-benefit-ratio is too high; no idea how their own farm would benefit from incorporating new technology; not enough time to make good use of new technology; no perceived benefit from an economic standpoint. All of these reasons are behind the slow adoption of new technology into today's farms – even though they are offering a slew of opportunities in the area of business management.