SMARTCOW laboratory aims to provide the student the operational principles of precision animal husbandry using in practice instruments and sensors that are used in research and in the commercial farms. In particular, the course will focus on the techniques for the evaluation of the conditions and performances of the animals as well as the efficiency and adequacy of structures and equipment. Another objective is the development of a scientific approach to the topics with the methods of a research project starting from a theoretical study, formulating a hypothesis, collecting measured data to be processed and interpreted.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will acquire the knowledge and ability to use indicators and equipment to monitor and study the main aspects related to the dairy animal husbandry: milk production and quality, behavior and welfare, health, housing, performances of structures and equipment. The student will develop a scientific approach and will acquire the ability to process, integrate and interpret data from sensors, instruments and other sources, developing simple prediction models for decision support.
Lesson period: Second semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
The laboratory program includes: 1) Short presentation of the main topics, indicators and sensors by the teachers. 2) Short safety training activity 3) Presentation of the state of the art of the main topics addressed by the groups of students 4) Assembly of sensors, data and measurement collection, data entry in excel 5) Guided statistical processing in the computer room 6) Plenary discussion of the results 7) Short training activity for the preparation of the final report and PowerPoint presentation 8) Drafting of the final report
In the 2019-2020 lab the following specific topic will be addressed: Relationship between environmental conditions, milk production and udder health.
The main recordings will focus on a number of parameters usually analysed in the precision dairy husbandry: 1) Animal behavior and activity through individual accelerometer sensors; 2) Environmental conditions in the barn, waiting room and milking parlor; 3) Milk production, duration of milking, milk flows; 4) Progesterone, betahydroxybutyrate, urea, lactate dehydrogenase in individual milk; 5) Somatic cell and differential somatic cell count of individual milk; 6) Teat conditions and udder hygiene (Teat score, Hygiene score).
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the main animal husbandry techniques and basic knowledge of farm structures
The laboratory will be divided into 6 days, between July and September 2020. The laboratory will take place at a dairy farm, mainly at the Menozzi educational farm in Landriano, but a few hours are scheduled in the computer room (via Celoria 2, Milan) for the statistical data processing. The laboratory includes a few hours of frontal teaching but most of time is dedicated to field activities and interactive classroom activities. Students will be divided into groups both for the field activities and for the drafting of the final report, in order to encourage their active involvement. Each group of students will deal with a specific aspect of the project on which they will have to do a bibliographic review before the start of the laboratory and a presentation to the classmates during the laboratory
Before the lab start, some scientific papers about the main lab topics and the protocols for monitoring the parameters on farm will be provided to the students
Assessement methods and criteria
The assessment will consist in the evaluation of the final report prepared by the students. In particular, the main criteria for the evaluation of the final report will be: Structure: clear and appropriate; Introduction: clearly identifies the context of the present knowledge in the domain with adequate citations; Aim: clearly and shortly stated; Methodology: clearly explained; Figures and Tables: well-organized and structured; Discussion and conclusion: results discussed in depht and conclusions well motivated; language: clear and correct The report must be ready by the end of September 2020 and the presentation of the results will take place in early October