Myerscough College’s Lodge Farm is to become the first in the UK to invest in state-of-the-art technology that instantly analyses cow’s milk at source.
Afimilk’s Milk-Lab is an innovative in-line system that has been developed over the last decade in Israel. It works by recording data on milk produced from each individual cow in a herd. The AfiLab element of the system acts as a real-time analyser of the milk’s components, accurately measuring levels of fat, protein, lactose, blood detection and 10-day average Somatic Cell Count banding. This enables the farm to quickly identify and act on any potential feeding or health issues, improving milk production, milk quality and the longevity of the herd.
James Oddie is Myerscough College’s Director of Farming Innovations and Operations, and explains how the purchase of the technology came about: ‘’Afimilk are world leaders in this technology. We discussed how we were managing our cows with an associate of Myerscough’s, Chris Shepherd, of SHEPHERD AGRI, and he brought Afimilk and its possible benefits to our attention.
‘’After an initial meeting I travelled to a farm in Denmark earlier this year to see the system in operation and after this decided to go ahead with the purchase.
‘’It’s a significant investment to the farm here at Myerscough and it will move us forward leaps and bounds in our ability to manage our herd. The potential for research and data we can get is phenomenal.
‘’Milk gets analysed from each individual cow to check if it has mastitis or other illness. There’s also a pedometer leg tag monitoring system so we can monitor potential distress levels, as well as identifying digestive problems, fertility issues, and lots more. The key is the fact that we will be able to make quick management decisions on individual cows.’’
It’s exciting times at Lodge Farm with the upcoming completion of a new Food & Farming Innovation & Technology (FFIT Centre) which focuses on beef production, but the decision to install a full Afimilk Herd Management System moves Myerscough forward significantly on the dairy side. Although the installation is predominantly for the College’s commercial operations, learners on agriculture study programmes will have access to some of the data generated by the system. This will give students a much more rounded experience of dairy farming with instant access to information.
Chris Howarth is Afimilk’s National Sales Manager, and says: ‘’This will be the first of our official milk labs in the UK”
‘’We are currently active in 50 countries around the world and our aim is to provide milk producers with superior technology to manage and control dairy farms, enabling profitable production of high quality milk and dramatic improvement of animal welfare”
Since the Afilab technology was first introduced in 2008. The system was used initially to detect blood in milk, but from there we found it can do so much more.
‘’There are many components to the system. As well as the AfiLab and a milk meter, the Afitag element is crucial for a college farm. Not only an identification and activity pedometer for the cows, the additional benefits of monitoring individual, group and herd animal behaviour ensures the highest level of health and welfare monitoring.
Also, the system gives the ability to ensure Myerscough will be industry leading and an example of best practice in years to come.’’
Chris Shepherd from SHEPHERD AGRI says: ‘’The system has great benefits to both daily as well as lifetime production from the cows. It’s the animals daily milk production that pays the bills and this system maximises that, but also ensures herd replacement rates are less as the cows are happier, healthier and live longer.’’
Yoni Levine is Application Specialist at Afimilk and adds: ‘’Nutrition is a very important element of what we do. AfiLab registers small changes to cows instantly as it analyses fat and protein levels so immediate changes can be made.
‘’The health benefits that the technology facilitates are endless. Feeding levels can be adjusted based on milk yield and the data gives farmers the details they need to make changes to avoid problems. This makes for a much healthier cow.
‘’Having the data and knowing how to use it prevents production loss, increases the number of lactations and the animal lives longer.
‘’Monitoring rest time of cows is another important issue. The system means the cows can effectively ‘speak’ to the farmer and tell them what’s wrong through the software. Higher yields can be produced simply by making the cow more comfortable through little changes.’’
Chris Howarth adds: ‘’This is a very much a partnership. Myerscough College is joining the Afimilk family and we’ll be providing ongoing support and training to guarantee a speedy return on investment.’’
Installation of the system takes place in the spring and should be operational in time for the summer. It will be ready for educational purposes for Myerscough agriculture students starting courses in September.
For more information, visit www.afimilk.com
The photograph shows (L-R – Chris Shepherd, Yoni Levine, James Oddie & Chris Howarth) in the dairy unit at Myerscough College’s Lodge Farm.
by Dave Salmon