N8 Funded Project with Newcastle and Liverpool Universities.
Infrared thermography (IRT) is a non-invasive, remote method to measure infrared radiation from a subject, to determine radiated temperature. In cattle, its use is rapid, immediate and less invasive than assessing temperature with rumen boluses or rectal, vaginal and tympanic (ear) thermometers and can screen for early detection of inflammatory diseases. Whilst IRT has also shown potential to monitor feed intake and growth rate in cattle in the tropics and in males, no information is available on female cattle in temperate areas. High growth rate is key to efficient beef production, and for dairy heifers, reaching target bodyweights is essential to ensure safe deliver of a live calf at 24 months of age. This project aims to determine whether IRT measurements are associated with efficiency in beef and dairy female calves, delivering information on a proof-of-concept for possible application of IRT as a tool to monitor growth, feed intake and welfare of growing cattle.
Liveweight, health, welfare and infrared temperature will be monitored in two groups of cattle for 6 months. One group will be housed at NU Farms, overseen by technical staff of Newcastle University (NU), the other, housed on a commercial farm in Northamptonshire, overseen by MIRACLE TECH staff. A robust framework to assess cattle health and welfare from University of Liverpool will ensure agreement at both sites. Thus growth, IRT temperatures and welfare will be monitored monthly and analyses will elucidate the relationships between IRT temperatures and these aspects of efficiency.
The project will:
- be a platform from which to develop a research collaboration with industry specialising in the use of IRT to promote efficiency in cattle production; there may well be possibilities to exploit this technology for other areas of animal production.
- produce preliminary data for a more substantial grant application.
- produce data that will be presented at a scientific conference.
- provide a training opportunity for student projects at NU and UoL.
The findings of this research should be available towards the end of 2019.
Detecting Heat More Accurately.
As farmers who use a lot of artificial insemination to improve our genetics in our pedigree herd we know it is very important to know when is the best time to serve the animal, this is very difficult to detect using the naked eye. There are many devices on the market that will help you with heat detection but they all require you to catch the animal and either insert something into them or attach something to their body. We believe that by using our thermal imaging technology you can determine the best time for service by just scanning them with a camera, this then means you only have to catch the animal for insemination. It will also save you money as most devices are either a once use and throw away or they have a yearly running cost as well as the initial purchase price; once you have brought a camera that is it!
George has tried this theory on some of the pedigree cattle with some great results (it was actually featured on a BBC Radio Four interview), we are now working with a University to confirm our initial findings before we launch this application onto the market, when we do this will only be available through us, Miracle Tech owns the IP on all this work.
Early Mastitis Detection.
We have been doing a little work on trying to determine if thermal imaging can help in the fight against mastitis. As beef farmers we do not see many cases of mastitis; this is more common in the dairy sector. Our early research is showing some very exciting results, it looks as though by having a camera either under the udder so we can get an image of all four quarters or two cameras (one each side) positioned to get a good image of half the udder can show any slight raise in temperature that maybe a worry. With this information the cowman can then physically investigate to see if there is a problem. Early indications are that we can pick up mastitis one to two days earlier than you would normally expect to, meaning it can be dealt with earlier. This in turn means there is less likelihood of antibiotics. Early Mastitis detection using thermal imaging is being looked into in more detail by some leading professors.