A new technology aims to help farmers identify changes in their cow’s physical wellbeing, mobility and weight before they become visible to the human eye.

Arla is launching a trial of the new 3D scanning technology, Herdvision, that removes measurements that currently have to be made subjectively by the human eye.

The technology instead uses visual monitoring, data recording and automated intelligence to assist in managing cow welfare.

It was developed by Kingshay working in partnership with the Centre for Machine Vision in the Bristol Robotics Lab at the University of the West of England and AgsenZe.

Arla's trial has been welcomed by Morrisons which is supporting the Arla UK 360 programme across its entire Arla milk supply.

Arthur Fearnell, elected Arla board member said: “Technology has moved on so much in the last decade and it is providing new opportunities to further enhance animal health on-farm.

"The systems Arla UK 360 farmers are now trialling give a picture of each individual animal’s health that humans alone could only dream of seeing. Identifying early signs of change can have a positive impact across the board, from overall cow wellbeing to better milk production, a reduced need for medication and increased fertility rates.”

While there are already other scanning technologies on the market, the new Herdvision technology doesn’t require the cow to stand still meaning it is easier to use and gives much greater accuracy in the results.

Duncan Forbes, dairy research director of Kingshay said: “Much like humans reacting differently if we know there is a camera filming us, cows do the same.

"Studies show that cows behave differently if they think they are being watched, affecting the way they walk or move. It is ingrained primitive behaviour not to show weakness and even though cows have been domesticated for thousands of years, the mindset of best foot forward still seems prevalent in today’s animals. Overcoming that issue, and with artificial intelligence built in, this system will measure and identify changes to cow health based on each individual cow’s own health record.”

The Herdvision scanner is being trialled on ten Arla UK 360 farms. With results being built over time as increased amounts of animal health data is recorded, the trial will continue until an evidence based decision can be made about the proven benefits of this type of technology.