Watch a video on how WellCalf was conceived, hear from vets, farms and the developers in an unique look behind the scenes.
WellCalf is a project to improve the health of calves, using the data from constant calf monitoring to provide actionable insights to farmers.
50% of all calves will have either pneumonia or scour within the first 8 weeks of life. Much of this will be at a subclinical level and never get treated retarding early growth and having lifelong performance impact.
Time for stock observation is often challenging on busy farms, making particularly early stage disease challenges difficult to identify. On farms where there are different stock managers taking care of animals, consistent observation, variable diagnostic outcomes and incomplete record keeping are all opportunities for missed animals and ineffective management protocols.
Smartbell created a specialized tag to allow constant monitoring from birth, working with several designs to choose one which could cope with on farm conditions. Machine learning techniques are used to create algorithms which analyse the animal data before sending alerts to the farms. These algorithms are validated against actual farm observations by vets.
Allowing rearers to allocate their time more effectively ensures that the most vulnerable animals get necessary attention. Specialist calf health monitoring will also reduce variability in calf care between different members of staff.
Within the app, information is aggregated to provide an overview of conditions on the farm so that farmers can see if there are areas of improvement, and data sharing options with the farm vet drive improvements in herd health planning.
Through targeting this at the animals which really need it, we will be able to use less medicine overall
The project delivered a robust tag that can be applied soon after birth and withstand the shed environment, and then be reused for the next batch of animals. Alerts that are sent promptly to user in easy to use and simple to understand formats, prompty quick and better management decisions. Reporting through the app on disease and treatment trends to inform herd health planning and development of husbandry protocols. The individual monitoring capabililty allows a precision approach to the management of individual animals, with identification of disease symptoms much earlier than achieved by the best stock managers. Attention is focused on calves which need it most, saving time and improving overall levels of care, animal health and welfare. Disease detection with 80% accuracy, up to 3 days before visible symptoms. This allows earlier treatment, reducing long-term lung damage from pneumonia and possibility of using more anti-inflammatories rather than antimicrobials. Higher base level of care, even with less trained and experienced staff.
We believe that the data generated and collected by farms should work to empower their decision making, improve animal health and improve profit margins.