Digital innovations for dairy farming

Author: Per Frankelius (Linköping University, Sweden) - September 15, 2017

Monitoring natural grazing by means of sensor-equipped drones is already reality. However more concept development is needed. Illustration: Per Frankelius. 

Some digital innovations relevant for livestock farms or found in the table below (just examples). Red marking means that the product, method or concept is under development but not yet a commercial product. In the table all innovations are related to the phases-innovation model. Besides the innovations in table, are many no-digital innovations of interest for dairy farming or livestock farming in general. One example is the Lely hay and baling machines such as the Lely Welger. However the table is focused on digital innovations.

All comments on this innovation overview are welcome. Please mail if you want to add or correct something.


Problem to be solved (or wanted solution)

Innovative concept, company and/or brand name (Examples)

Market launch year

Strongest phase(s) relationship

Automated feeding

Lely Vector



Automatic body condition analysis

Body Condition Scoring, BCS (DeLaval)



Automatic classification detection, inhouse

Smart Agritech Solutions: Optical classification system (not yet on the market)

In the future

M, I

Automatic identification of animals in livestock

ID (DeLaval)


All phases

Automatic milking

Astronaut (Lely)

VMS (DeLaval)

1992 (Lely)

1998 (DeLaval)


Automatic weight detection, inhouse

Weighing in the station (Lely)

Automatic Weighing System, AWS (DeLaval) which is a walk over scale

2009 (Lely)

2009 (DeLaval)


M, I

Automatic weight detection, outdoor


2017 (not yet adjusted for dairy animals)

M, I

Calving time alarm

Mocall: connected sensor at the cow tail sending signals to mobile devises.



Detection of udder inflammation (mastitis)


Herd Navigator (DeLaval): Measures LDH to detect mastitis (also Progesterone and BHB)

Agricam: IR Images camera

2008 (DeLaval)

2013 (Agricam)


Estrus analysis

Activity meter or milk analysis are the most common sensors. There are also mounting detectors but they are not so advanced.

Not known


Hoof health monitoring

Digital infrared thermography Probably no available (validated) product.

In the future


Manure spreading sensors paving the way for precision agriculture

NIR analysis (m-u-t GmbH): Register molecules in real-time in manure spreading.

Harvest lab (John Deere): Similar technology.

2015 (m-u-t)

2016 (John Deere)

Not connected to phases

Milk analysis tool for reproduction management

Herd Navigator (DeLaval): Measures progesterone for reproduction management (also LDH and BHB)


M, E, I

Milking amount monitoring

JM100 (DeLaval): ICAR-approved milk meter (first in the world)


M, E, I, D

Mobile information alert system

Lely T4C InHerd

MyFarm (DeLaval). App for smartpones to receive alerts and real-time milk production and animal data from VMS (VoluntaryMilking System) or AMR (Automatic Milking Rotary).

2013 (Lely)

2016 (DeLaval)

All phases

Monitoring natural grazing

Drones with sensors (to be developed)

In the future

All phases

Monitoring of con-centrate feed

Feeding stations (DeLaval):



D, M, E, I

Movement tracking

Activity meter (DeLaval)


Phase E most connected (detect estrus). One also want to measure low activity for health problems, applicable for all phases but that is secondary.

Preventing accidents in manure system

Svea Agri: Manure sensors alongside algorithm



Roe deer detection at hay harvest

Rupprecht Walch: heat sensors (tests but no commersial product)

In the future

Not connected to phases