Animal Health Symposium: CSAS Technology in the Dairy Industry: Old MacDonald or Brave New World?
The dairy industry has an increasing availability of equipment that is readily available for the automation of management tasks, including milking and feeding, as well as the monitoring of dairy cow behavior. Such automation not only has the ability to improve production and time efficiency on farm, but also increases our ability to monitor individual cows. Rapid adoption of automated (robotic) milking systems (AMS) is a good example of such benefits. Producers who have adopted this technology suggest they gain more time flexibility, find work to be less stressful and physically demanding, and report improved quality of their own life as well as that of their cows. At the same time, adoption of AMS may be associated with improvements in cow health and productivity. Similar findings apply for the adoption of automated milk feeders for dairy calves. The adoption of automated milk feeders has been done in effort to provide higher milk allowances, and thus raise healthier and better growing calves, reduce labor, and improve working conditions on farm. While less studied, automation in feeding of lactating cows also holds much promise for improving feeding accuracy and precision; thus not only reducing labor needs, but also having positive effects on cow production and efficiency. Finally, there is also rapid adoption of automated technologies for individual behavioral monitoring of dairy cows. These technologies have widely been adopted for estrus detection. In addition, they are also useful for detection of health disorders, both in occurrence and in advance of clinical symptoms. This, in turn, allows producers to identify and implement prevention and treatment protocols at earlier time points. It is anticipated that in the future such behavioral monitoring will play a larger role in terms of informing management decisions on farm.