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Dunedin-based data company brings high-tech analytics to the farmyard

Injuries to livestock going undetected for too long are costing New Zealand's farming industry up to $500 million a year.

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Injuries to livestock that go undetected for too long is costing Kiwi farmers up to $500m per year. One company aims to change that. Source: 1 NEWS

Now, one Dunedin based data company could have a solution — by bringing high-tech analytics to the farmyard.

A special camera records and analyses cows’ movements as they walk back to the paddock after milking.

“If we count each frame that we're looking at, we're talking tens of thousands of data points per cow,” Iris Data Science’s Benoit Auvray said.

“It'll track the cows, ID them and it'll generate a set of scores and traits or characteristics for each cow,” Iris Data Science’s Greg Peyroux added.

The scores are then used to help detect conditions such as lameness.

“The earlier you can pick them up, usually the less damage they've caused. If you leave them, they get worse,” farm manager Matt Hamilton said.

It can prove costly, too.

“Particularly for dairy farms, it could possibly cost the industry as much as half a billion dollars every year,” Peyroux said.

Auvray said lameness costs farmers on the average farm around $50,000 to $100,000 a year for the entire herd.

The technology is currently being piloted on five dairy farms in the lower South Island, but it's hoped more will jump on board to help prove it works before it hits the market.

“It’s giving us that early detection that we're looking for rather than cows getting lame and we're seeing them when it's too late and then they're a problem,” Hamilton said.

If it proves to be successful, the technology could be used for other animals, too.

“We started with sheep, we've done it on goats but who knows? It could be applied to horses and maybe even humans,” Peyroux said.