Providing innovative monitoring technologies for livestock worldwide
IceRobotic’s advanced sensor technology is helping to transform the dairy farming world by providing farmers and researchers with valuable data which enables them to make informed management decisions.  

Founded in 2002, the Edinburgh-based company has established itself as a world-leading developer and provider of data collection and analysis products for monitoring livestock behaviour – for researchers and farmers alike. The company developed the first accelerometer-based livestock monitoring system for researchers and is widely regarded as a leading animal behaviour specialist. Following on from its research products, in 2012 IceRobotics developed CowAlert, the first cloud-based data collection and analytics system for commercial livestock farms. The CowAlert cloud now contains 70 million cow days of data.

IceRobotics’ advanced wearable technology is capable of monitoring cattle behaviour on a second-by-second basis. Data is then viewed and evaluated by its bespoke cloud-based software platform, providing vital insight into animal health, welfare and productivity, both in real-time and retrospectively. Its pioneering early lameness detection technology, along with automated mobility scoring modules, provide a unique offering to the market, allowing and encouraging early intervention and treatment of this widespread ailment – one of the most significant costs for dairy producers.

In addition to lameness alerts, CowAlert provides users with lying time analysis, heat detection, and health alerts. Likened to ‘Fitbit’ devices used to track human activity, CowAlert automatically records and collects animal behavioural data through a robust wireless sensor which is fitted to the cow’s hind leg where it captures accurate data multiple times per second on stepping, activity, standing and lying time. Intelligent algorithms analyse the data collected, providing accurate alerts and information on fertility, lying time, lameness and mobility. If abnormal behavioural patterns are detected the cloud-based analytical system evaluates and alerts the user. The farmer can then make a fully informed decision regarding intervention and treatment.

The company has also recently launched CowAlert for Researchers, which allows research users to access the uninterpreted data from their farms or a group of participating farms, changing the way in which research is carried out.

Cattle behaviour, such as the amount of time spent lying or standing, can provide a timely and effective measure of health and fertility. Traditionally this has been achieved by visual assessment of cattle, which is subjective and time-consuming. The advent of intelligent remote monitoring automates this process, achieving unparalleled levels of detail and accuracy and enabling precision management of dairy farming. The global value of such technology is estimated at over £1bn annually and is set to grow substantially through pressure to meet high animal welfare standards and reduce environmental impacts.

Stuart Blyth, Head of Business Development at CIEL, and Mark Young, Head of Innovation at CIEL, are working with IceRobotics to help identify and develop further growth opportunities for CowAlert and identify funding opportunities for the next stage in technology development.

IceRobotics has some exciting new developments both in its equipment and software capabilities which open up significant opportunities to both farmers and researchers alike. The power of the technology to use and analyse multiple data feeds, linking behaviour to health and performance puts the farmer in a great position to manage his herd and brings the researcher a wealth of information to support new studies.

Stuart Blyth, Head of Business Development, CIEL

As Douglas Armstrong, CEO of IceRobotics, explains: “CowAlert’s automated scoring system becomes the farmer’s ‘eyes and ears’, monitoring each animal’s behaviour round the clock. The cloud-based system is easily accessed by the farmer via a mobile device and can be readily shared with others such as vets.”

IceRobotics is built on continuous innovation and we invest in an ongoing programme of research and development which has enabled us to launch new modules and enhancements since CowAlert was initially introduced. We are particularly excited about our lameness detection module, launched in 2018, which has the power to transform how the industry deals with this major health issue. With the CowAlert system, early detection and prevention is possible – unlocking huge health, productivity and financial benefits for farm enterprises.

In our increasingly competitive and welfare-focused times, this technology gives the farming community a definite edge helping to preserve social licence whilst increasing sustainability

Douglas Armstrong, CEO, IceRobotics