Using indicators such as the animal repeatedly flicking at its ears, the Smartbell system can identify if a calf is becoming ill three days before any symptoms emerge. Early treatment then means reduced suffering for the calf.
Smartbell offers an ‘internet of cows’ by tracking calves, minute by minute, using an ear tag which monitors their activity and movements. The Cambridge start-up was awarded Commendation Award for Innovation at The Cream Awards 2021, a prestigious British industry trade award.
Veena Adityan, CEO of Smartbell, said: “It’s an honour to receive such an award. It is tremendous validation from the industry of work we are doing and the real difference it makes to farmers, the welfare of their animals, and also be a benefit to society.”
The information from electronic tags is relayed to a farmer’s phone, or laptop, providing real time insights into the health of every animal in a herd. A powerful algorithm alerts the farmer to any concerns about the livestock.
Jose Chitty, Chief of Operations at Smartbell, said: “The smart tag is like an electronic herdsman, who never sleeps. If a dog is man’s best friend, this tag could become a farmer’s best mate.”
A calf which is in good health in its first three months of life yields, on average has optimal growth and productivity. It also needs far fewer antibiotics, and less food and water, minimising the animal’s carbon footprint.
The company has previously been awarded £1M in research funding by Innovate UK, a government agency which promotes research and innovation. They are partnering with Scottish Rural College and Parklands Veterinary Group (now part of Vet Partners) and Agri-EPI Centre to further develop this technology.