In  response  to  the  decline  of  fertility  in  dairy  cows  worldwide,  Milkalyser  Limited  has  developed  an automated  fertility  management  system  for  dairy  farmers.  The  innovative  new  technology  directly measures  the  fertility  hormone,  progesterone,  in  cow’s  milk  and  provides  analytical  data  to  predict ovulation and optimal timing for insemination.

Milkalyser has been developed by eCow founder Professor Toby Mottram and allows dairy farmers to track their herd’s fertility and output information to a herd management package or smartphone.

Cows secrete progesterone in milk at a high level most of the time; this can be detected in milk.  When progesterone drops, ovulation (when the cow is fertile) follows.  In trials 97% of cows have been inseminated successfully using hormonal analysis alone, this compares with 70% using collar technology.

Milkalyser uses a hormone sensor fitted into milking machine long milk tubes to analyse each cow’s milk, displaying fertility data where ever it is most useful to the farmer or inseminator.  The system is designed for quick retrofitting to any milking parlour with an ID system.  Internet connectivity is provided if it does not exist on farm.  The only tools needed are a knife an screwdriver.

Tracking the progesterone content of milk will detect up to 99% of ovulation  events, pinpointing the optimum period for insemination, and detect infertile and pregnant cows, says Professor Mottram.  “We have taken the gold standard and put it in a box using the latest sensing and internet technology.”

Although techniques for analysing progesterone already exist, these rely on laboratory testing or manual testing kits, he adds.

“Whilst laboratory-based hormone analysis detects 97% of fertility events, it is too time consuming for large modern dairies,’’ Professor Mottram suggests.

He expects Milkalyser to be available for commercial trials in late 2018/early 2019,  as company development continues.