Today, our parent company, Datamars, announced the acquisition of Irish remote animal monitoring company, HerdInsights. With this strategic move, Datamars significantly accelerated its own research and product development work in the area of livestock performance monitoring; and enhanced its ability to deliver data-driven insights to livestock producers on productivity, animal wellbeing and sustainable resource use – enabling better, more informed decisions, and measurable results.
But who is HerdInsights and what motivated Datamars to begin talks about joining forces? What does this mean for the broader livestock and dairy sectors? What benefits can customers expect to receive as a result, and what are Datamars’ plans for the future with HerdInsights?
We spoke with Datamars CEO Daniele Della Libera and HerdInsights CEO Brian Mulcahy, to find out more.
What is HerdInsights?
HerdInsights is an exciting young technology company, established in Cork in 2017 from original start up Alanya Ltd. Since those beginnings, it has developed and launched a ground-breaking remote reproductive and health monitoring system for the global dairy industry. That system provides year-round information to dairy farmers, leading to greater efficiencies, improved animal health outcomes, and reductions in costs. It represents the first health monitoring solution of its kind for dairy cows.
Known for its world-class team, HerdInsights has industry-leading experience and expertise spanning the depth and breadth of the dairy agricultural sector, global veterinarian industry, and IT industry. Its solutions have a particularly strong market presence in the UK, Northern Europe and Australia.
When describing the solution, HerdInsights CEO, Brian Mulcahy, explains that, at its core, HerdInsights is about enabling farmers to improve the efficiency of their breeding programs and reduce health costs. It achieves this by directly targeting the key challenges farmers face.
“We know that heavy farm workloads often mean it’s really difficult to detect subclinical cow signs and/or developing health issues early enough to take effective action to address them. We also know that, due to the time-consuming nature of monitoring cows for heat events, an estimated one in three heats are missed on dairy farms. The HerdInsights solution addresses those challenges head on,” he says.
The practical ‘how’ this is achieved, comes down to the HerdInsights innovative cloud-based ‘Smart Collar’ that provides multimetric analysis. HerdInsights is the only solution of its kind, featuring its unique multimetricgesture recognition technology. Gesture recognition technology, when first emerged, predominantly focused on walking and basic movement to determine heat and small (acute) health matters. Then additional gestures such as neck movement were added. HerdInsights has a unique solution that measures multiple gestures including walking, mounting, chin resting, sniffing, licking and bunting and adds them together to create a wider and more accurate view. This distinctive multimetric analysis enables more accurate and timely heat detection as well as health alerts.
The solution therefore helps automate what has until now been largely a manual job, for example involving manual heat detection tools. That automation gathers invaluable data – data that previously went unrecorded – and delivers key insights to a farmer’s personal device to act upon.
This includes reliable heat-detection alerts, therefore reducing the number of missed or silent heats; and a unique health index that is created for each individual animal within the herd, making it possible to detect illnesses much earlier and to take the appropriate intervention. Another benefit of such automation is that it returns time to the farmer, or an average saving of more than 53 hours of labour over the course of a typical 6-week breeding period.
Where time is money and margins are tight, HerdInsights is proud of its impressive return on investment. Herd size is typically 200-500 cows and farmers can anticipate a 16-month payback period with the system.
Typical results we’ve achieved on farm include increased milk yields that can be worth in excess of €40k over 5 years. Results also include reduced veterinary costs due to early detection of health issues and improved fertility and health.
A solid record of success and a shared vision of a data-driven future
According to Daniele, one of Datamars’ core goals is to enable the greater sustainability of livestock production globally by bringing together products, technologies and capabilities to deliver product solutions that put powerful data-driven insights in the hands of those livestock producers. And, while HerdInsights may be a young company, what it has managed to achieve in a short four years far surpasses that of many companies that have been around for decades.
“We considered a number of different companies worldwide before making the decision to approach HerdInsights. We were actively looking for a company that would both complement and add to our livestock portfolio offering. HerdInsights is - without a doubt - the standout choice,” he says.
What HerdInsights has achieved to date is impressive, but Daniele also emphasises that it is the shared vision for the future that is equally important to Datamars.
“We fundamentally believe in the same things and in the same roadmap to help our customers get there. This represents the bringing together of two teams passionate about transforming the sustainability of livestock production globally - because we know and understand the increasing pressures dairy farmers and livestock producers are facing to produce more, with less,” he says.
Those increasing pressures are the result of significant growth worldwide in the demand for meat and dairy products as simultaneously farmers and producers face competing pressures for more sustainable use of resources such as land and water; greater traceability and food security; and more targeted animal health practices.
“This is very much an intentional acquisition made directly in support of this sector. Farmers and producers around the world are proud custodians of the land, are invested in animal wellbeing and productivity and have for a long time been adopting technology and practices to improve their productivity and resource management. This acquisition brings together two teams aligned in our vision for a future centred around the value of data for promoting animal wellbeing and overall productivity.
Completing the picture of animal performance and wellbeing: What the partnership will look like in practice and what it means for customers
Customers can have confidence that the HerdInsights solution will continue to be available as it exists today for dairy farmers in Australia, NZ, Germany, the UK and Ireland, with Datamars as the primary reseller.
The HerdInsights solution is joining the Datamars Livestock stable of existing solutions, which includes Z Tags animal identification (tag) products, Tru-Test weighing solutions and Datamars Livestock Live cloud. It also includes broader pasture management and farm infrastructure solutions; and Tru-Test’s world leading milk metering technology.
What is new, however, is the acceleration of activity monitoring capability that HerdInsights brings to Datamars. This, in combination with weight-based information, provides significant data insights regarding animal performance, health and productivity.
“Bringing our Tru-Test weighing and the HerdInsights activity solutions together alongside our own research and product development in this space further strengthens the value we can offer farmers. Together we can deliver another level of powerful data-driven insight to livestock producers; help them address the competing pressures and demands that they face; achieve greater results in terms of productivity, animal wellbeing and sustainable resource use – and all while reducing their costs.
“In short, it helps build a more complete picture of animal performance and wellbeing that is critical for farmer decision-making,” Daniele says.
A powerful proposition to dairy farmers - and one that further strengthens Datamars’ position as the only company worldwide offering customers a complete end-to-end solution from animal containment and identification, to weight based and activity data capture, to cloud-based reporting and insights.
The next step is to make HerdInsights available to more customers around the world, something HerdInsights CEO Brian Mulcahy says the HerdInsights team is particularly excited about.
“At HerdInsights we’ve achieved strong growth over the past 4-years and we had been looking at our next steps to drive further product development and market expansion. It’s really exciting that we can immediately take advantage of the scale of Datamars’ global sales and marketing capabilities, and manufacturing and supply chains, to expand into new markets.
“Joining with Datamars is a great next step for our team, and for dairy and broader livestock producers in general. Growing and innovating our solution further and reaching more customers as part of a broader overall solution is going to be key for livestock producers going forward, so we’re pleased to join forces with Datamars to deliver to these aspirations,” he says.
Looking to the future and with Datamars known worldwide for its commitment to R & D, the two teams will now work together collaboratively to continue product development and accelerate further Datamars innovation in this space across sectors and regions.
“I’m really excited to see what, together, we can achieve, "Brian says.
With the details of the acquisition arrangement now confirmed, HerdInsights will be integrated into Datamars over the next month with all 13 HerdInsights employees, including CEO Brian Mulcahy, joining the Datamars team.
“At HerdInsights it has always part of our growth strategy to join with a larger company who shares our culture of being customer-first – being completely focussed on helping livestock and dairy farmers to maximise their resources and take the very best products out into the world. I’m confident that we have found that in Datamars” Brian says.
Datamars CEO Daniele agrees and says he looks forward to what the future brings: “This is a win-win for both the Datamars and HerdInsights teams, our customers, and those who have yet to meet our complete solution. It’s a matter of watch this space.”
Find out more at www.herdinsights.com