A New International Research Alliance Will Help Dairy Farms Go Digital to Improve Sustainability

03.08.2020: Vetmeduni announces a collaboration with Zoetis and the Austrian Competence Centre for Feed & Food Quality, Safety, and Innovation (FFOQSI) to advance Precision Livestock Farming at the Milchhof Rodenwalde dairy farm in Germany.

Vetmeduni Vienna announced a new partnership with Zoetis and the Austrian Competence Centre for Feed & Food Quality, Safety & Innovation (FFOQSI ) on a research project targeting dairy Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) at Milchhof Rodenwalde institute in Germany.

Broadly, the project aims to use SMARTBOW 1 to answer the following research questions about PLF technologies:

  • How can farmers leverage the development and application of on-farm management protocols for PLF technologies?
  • What are the benefits for cow health and productivity of using SMARTBOW alerts to manage cows during the critical transition period, when compared with current practice?
  • What is the value of PLF technologies to the cow, the farmer and society?

“We aim to demonstrate that compared with current transition management practices on farm, the introduction of the SMARTBOW system will result in earlier disease diagnosis and treatment. We expect as a result to observe shorter durations for treatment and recovery, with subsequent reduction in antibiotic usage and improvement in welfare. By improving treatment outcomes, the impact of disease on productivity, fertility and profitability can be minimised.” said Andy Hancock, Outcomes Research, International Centre of Excellence, Zoetis.

Included in the outcomes of the project are economic comparisons of transition cow management with SMARTBOW compared to current practice, examining financials, labour utilisation, welfare and quality of life outcomes, antibiotic usage and environmental impact.

Michael Iwersen, Clinical Unit for Herd Health Management in Ruminants, Vetmeduni Vienna, shared how the research project will empower farmers to make data-driven decisions: “The sensor-based monitoring of cows in early lactation contains new information that will be used in the project to develop innovative prophylaxis and therapy concepts. In the context of herd and animal health management, the sensor-based collection of data can contribute to a more objective decision-making process for farmers and veterinarians. The practical and economic evaluation of the sensor system in this project will demonstrate the benefits.”

“The project offers us the opportunity to optimally adapt the sensor system to the conditions and needs of our farm to further improve herd management,” said Hans-Peter Greve, Managing Director, Milchhof Rodenwalde. “The important experience gained under the practical conditions at our farm will be shared with other farmers.”

The Rodenwalde Project is co-funded by Zoetis and FFOQSI, Austria’s leading competence Centre in the Agri-Food Industry. Vetmeduni Vienna is implementing the project, under the supervision of Michael Iwersen and Marc Drillich (Vetmeduni Vienna, Clinical Unit of Herd Health Management in Ruminants), Andy Hancock (Zoetis Outcomes Research, International Centre of Excellence) and Christian Wunderlich, Zoetis Germany, Smartbow Business Manager).

 “The project will run for 3 years, with 3 PhD students who commenced at Vetmeduni in May 2020. This area of PLF is rapidly evolving, and there is a need for better understanding of the practical application and value of these technologies for the dairy industry for the improvement of health, welfare, productivity and profitability,”, explained Jürgen Marchart, Managing Director, FFoQSI. “The goal of the project is to support the ongoing commitment to improve dairy farm sustainability.”


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University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)






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