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Preston agriculture firm adopts new tech to improve cow health

Posted on - 22nd November, 2021 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Garstang, Preston News, Wildlife and Conservation, Wyre News
Pic: Pixabay

A Preston agricultural footbath manufacturer has teamed up with Siemens to improve cow health.

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Hoofcount, on Reservoir Road, has adopted Siemens data capture and control technologies to help farmers make informed decisions when tackling lameness, a significant problem in dairy herds.

The firm utilises Siemens technology LOGO, an intelligent logic module for small automation projects in industrial settings.

LOGO controls the mechanisms in Hoofcount’s footbaths, such as chemical and water pumps and animal feed controls.

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Anthony Marsh, Dairy Engineer and Founder of Hoofcount, said: “When we first introduced footbaths in the UK in 2012, we were already ahead of the game because they were quite new.

“But, with the rapid advancements in technology, we’ve reached a point where we need to go that extra mile and be revolutionary again. And, to keep leading the way, we needed that input and expertise from Siemens.

“Working with Siemens has given us a thrust for producing the technologically advanced Hoofcount. Simply put, we have transformed our footbath into a pioneering piece of equipment that will eventually help cattle farmers in making data-driven decisions.”

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Controllers allow Hoofcount to track the cows that go through its footbaths and provide valuable data on the herd for display on HMI screens. The baths can be controlled remotely and have the capability to feed data to the cloud for analytics.

Bacteria on the hoof caused lameness, leading to restricted mobility, pain and behavioural changes.

These impacts, including animal suffering, high CO2 footprint, loss of milk production, decreased fertility, increased treatment, increased trimming costs and unnecessary labour, are estimated to cost several thousands of pounds per year for a 100-cow herd.

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Across the UK dairy industry, the financial impact of lameness may well be over £100 million. The food and beverage supply chain focuses on these impacts, but regular footbaths help reduce and prevent hoof illness and lameness.

With its humble beginnings as a small family firm in rural Lancashire, Hoofcount has made its range of automated footbaths suitable for every farm.

Every Hoofcount footbath is designed, folded and built in its continuously growing workshops in Lancashire, with the company producing around 300 footbaths a year.

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The footbaths are optimised to reduce water and chemical usage and operational costs. They are easy to maintain and have a built-in cleaning system that takes under three minutes, using two chemical pumps after the set number of cows have passed.

Lee Fletcher, Business Development Manager, Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Creating closer ties to the agriculture industry and bringing the latest technology that can transform the welfare of farm animals – a crucial factor in running healthy farms – makes Siemens proud. 

“Through Hoofcount’s close work with Siemens, its design philosophy has been underpinned by industrial learnings such as the use of open standards. The technologies used by Hoofcount are scalable and have the ability to be connected to IoT devices when the need arises.

“The possibilities are endless. Smart controls will allow farmers to monitor and control the footbath via an app, regardless of location.”

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Hoofcount’s Smart Controller allows users to monitor and change settings from a mobile device and receive notifications.

The standard footbath is ideal for herds of up to 200 cows and designed to work with robot systems, such as the Excel footbath for farms with large herd numbers.

Hoofcount’s footbath production has more than doubled each year, enabling the company and its business to double its growth.

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Its footbath cycle keeps cattle healthy, improves herd feet, reduces the loss of milk production and increases fertility. Customer data has shown that using the footbaths reduces lameness and offers a financial saving of up to £8,000 per 100 cows per year.

Hoofcount said it prides itself on supporting farmers globally, with their footbaths shipped to over 16 countries, including Canada, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Marsh said: “Clearly, our partnership with Siemens enables us to be ideally positioned to move forward quickly and sustainably and to scale the technologies as and when required with the assurance of benefiting from Siemens’ industrial expertise.

“Hoofcount is certainly well-positioned to continue market-leadership and assist cattle farmers to grow their business whilst ensuring farm animals’ health is a top priority.”

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