ROBOTIC technologies can do more than reduce labour hours, they can also aid in better decisions, Michigan State University Department of Animal Science professor Santiago Utsumi says.
Speaking at the DairySA Innovation Day, Prof Utsumi, who works with the WK Kellogg Biological Station, said the key use of new technologies was to allow thinking time and provide data for better decision-making.
"Precision dairyfarming is not about how precise the information is but how to use that information to make more precise decisions," he said.
Dr Utsumi said robotics research had helped measure animal grazing patterns, using acoustics.
This technology or data is useless if you don't translate those numbers into information.
He said it was possible to analyse the sound of bites, chews and chew-bites to know what the cows were eating and how much.
Using computer algorythms, this information could be analysed in real time to monitor the feeding habits of individual cows.
"This technology or data is useless if you don't translate those numbers into information," he said.
"The response to technology and using information is where we fail the most.
"We collect info and don't use it, it stays in the desk."
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Prof Utsumi said this information could gauge how much pasture was available and if individual cows were accessing adequate nutrition to meet their requirements.
But he said cow personality also played a part in how cows were feeding.
"We need to look at behaviour traits distributed across the herd," he said.
"High ranking cows are more proactive, approach grass, feed sooner and always displace lower-ranking cows.
"They're going to eat the best and leave the rest for lower-ranking cows.
We can move from a situation where we are behind and reacting to situations to one where we can make proactive situations.
"The higher cows can be 23 per cent higher in lactation, 8pc higher in body weight and 10pc higher in milk yields than the lower ranked cows."
Prof Utsumi said farmers would be able to combine pieces of information to gain the ability to predict future outcomes.
"We will have the ability to use that information to decide and decide quickly," he said.
"We can move from a situation where we are behind and reacting to situations to one where we can make proactive situations."
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