Instantprogesterone measurement to aid herd fertility
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.