In­stant­pro­ges­terone mea­sure­ment to aid herd fer­til­ity

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Ja­son Webb

An­other young busi­ness based on fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy, Mil­ka­l­yser Lim­ited, ex­hib­ited their in­no­va­tions at last week’s DairyTech in the UK.

They have devel­oped an au­to­mated fer­til­ity man­age­ment sys­tem for dairy farm­ers, in re­sponse to the de­cline of fer­til­ity in dairy cows world­wide. The tech­nol­ogy di­rectly mea­sures the fer­til­ity hor­mone, pro­ges­terone, in cow’s milk and pro­vides an­a­lyt­i­cal data to pre­dict ovu­la­tion and op­ti­mal tim­ing for in­sem­i­na­tion. Mil­ka­l­yser has been devel­oped by eCow founder Pro­fes­sor Toby Mot­tram, and al­lows dairy farm­ers to track their herd’s fer­til­ity, and to out­put in­for­ma­tion to a herd man­age­ment pack­age or smart­phone.

Cows se­crete pro­ges­terone in milk at a high level most of the time; this can be de­tected. When pro­ges­terone drops, ovu­la­tion (when the cow is fer­tile) fol­lows.

In tri­als, 97% of cows have been in­sem­i­nated suc­cess­fully us­ing hor­monal anal­y­sis alone, this com­pares with 70% us­ing col­lar tech­nol­ogy. Mil­ka­l­yser uses a hor­mone sen­sor fit­ted into the milk­ing ma­chine’s long milk tubes to an­a­lyse each cow’s milk, dis­play­ing fer­til­ity data wher­ever it is most use­ful — to the farmer or in­sem­i­na­tor, for ex­am­ple.

The sys­tem is de­signed for quick retrofitting to any milk­ing par­lour with an ID sys­tem. Only a knife and screw­driver are needed.

Track­ing the pro­ges­terone con­tent of milk will de­tect up to 99% of ovu­la­tion events, pin­point­ing the op­ti­mum pe­riod for in­sem­i­na­tion, and de­tect in­fer­tile and preg­nant cows, says Pro­fes­sor Mot­tram.

“We have taken the gold stan­dard and put it in a box, us­ing the lat­est sens­ing and in­ter­net tech­nol­ogy.” Although tech­niques for analysing pro­ges­terone al­ready ex­ist, th­ese rely on lab­o­ra­tory test­ing or man­ual test­ing kits, he adds.

He ex­pects Mil­ka­l­yser to be avail­able for com­mer­cial tri­als in late 2018 or early 2019. Mean­while, the com­pany’s de­vel­op­ment of the prod­uct con­tin­ues,

Whilst lab­o­ra­tory-based hor­mone anal­y­sis de­tects 97% of fer­til­ity events, it is too time con­sum­ing for large mod­ern dairies, Pro­fes­sor Mot­tram sug­gests.

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