Netherlands: Cows going digital

Connected cows (yes, cows) may be the first step in solving food shortages in the next decades. By 2050, the world will have 9 billion people, and we need a 60 percent increase in food production to feed them. Dairy farmer assistance is just one example of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used to help solve important issues like this.

Could technology make cows healthier, and in doing so, help farmers grow their businesses? That was the question that Yasir Khokar and Saad Ansari, the founders of Dutch start-up “Connecterra”, asked themselves.

The answer was yes, and to prove it they built Ida, the Intelligent Dairy farmer’s Assistant!

Ida uses TensorFlow, Google’s machine learning framework. It interprets the behaviour of cows and gives farmers insights about their herds’ health, fertility, and more. For instance, the only difference between cows that produce 30 litres of milk a day and those that produce 10 litres was the animal’s health.

Using insights from Ida, farmers are already seeing a 30 percent increase in dairy production. Ida learns patterns about a cow’s movements from a wearable sensor. They use this data to train machine learning models in TensorFlow. Ida can detect activities from eating, drinking, resting, fertility, temperature and more. It’s not just tracking this information. It predicts problems early, detecting cases like lameness or digestive disorders, and provides recommendations to farmers on how to keep their cows healthy and improve the efficiency of their farms.

TensorFlow, Google’s open source machine learning library, is just that—open to anyone. Companies, nonprofits, researchers and developers have used TensorFlow in some pretty cool ways. More of those stories available here.

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