Milkalyser is an innovative start-up that is revolutionising fertility management in the dairy industry. Milkalyser technology automates the inline analysis of milk progesterone, providing reliable fertility data in a matter of minutes. Milk progesterone concentration is the gold standard of oestrus detection, but practicalities have limited its use outside of the laboratory. Milkalyser has created the solution by integrating advanced sensors and smart technology in one box.
The dairy industry is in a fertility management crisis. Although improvements in several key performance intervals (KPIs) have been made in recent years, further improvements are unlikely unless the associated technologies advance further. Currently fertility management relies on technologies such as pedometers and collars which detect behavioural oestrus. However, evidence suggests that behavioural oestrus is declining in both duration and intensity, meaning these technologies rarely achieve a heat detection rate of more than 70%.
Currently, a large number of cows are culled each year for ‘infertility’, resulting in a substantial cost to the farmer and poor efficiency of milk production. Many are culled unnecessarily on the basis that oestrus has not been observed. However, some evidence suggests that up to 40% of cows do not display behavioural signs during every oestrus but are still fertile and can become pregnant if insemination is timed appropriately.
Milkalyser takes a different approach, by measuring the hormonal changes associated with oestrus in all fertile cows, users of our technology can achieve a far higher oestrus detection rate and understand more about each cow’s fertility. Milk progesterone analysis has been carried out in the laboratory for nearly 50 years and is the gold standard of oestrus detection. However, its use on farms has been limited due to the substantial associated time and labour costs.
Milkalyser can be retrofitted into most existing parlours, connecting directly to the milk line and automatically collecting small samples of milk. Milk progesterone concentration is automatically measured and results for each sample are recorded. Milkalyser algorithms interpret the data into meaningful information which can aid fertility management. This can include oestrus detection, ovulation prediction, pregnancy detection, and a prompt for veterinary investigation. Generally, milk progesterone concentration follows a predictable profile, as show below, and Milkalyser can identify cows which deviate from this profile.
In the UK in 2017 the median calving interval for the national herd was 402 days. With an optimum calving interval of 365 days, every day of this costs the farmer £3 per day per cow. On this basis, installation of Milkalyser could save the farmer £150 per cow per year through improved oestrus detection. This will help reduce calving intervals and reduce number of cows culled prematurely for infertility. Milkalyser algorithms can also produce predicted ovulation dates aiding accurate insemination time.
In addition to oestrus detection and ovulation prediction, Milkalyser provides a number of other benefits. Cows suffering from fertility or reproductive issues will display abnormal profiles, Milkalyser can identify these cows and highlight them for further investigation. Following insemination, Milkalyser can also continue to sample to identify pregnancy status as open, pregnant or pregnancy loss.