Precision dairy farming

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
AGR/10 AGR/19
Learning objectives
The laboratory aims to offer to the student the opportunity to understand the current challenges of precision livestock farming using tools and sensors that are used in research and in the commercial field to monitor the conditions of animals and their performances as well as the efficiency and adequacy of the systems and structures that come into contact with them. The topic will be addressed as a research project, starting from a theoretical study of a problem, formulating a hypothesis, collecting, processing and interpreting measured data.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will learn about the main indicators and tools to monitor and study the main aspects related to dairy farming: milk production and quality, well-being and behavior, health, farming environment, efficiency of plant and equipment operation. He/she will acquire the ability to process, integrate and interpret output data from sensors, instruments and other sources, also developing simple forecasting models for decision support. The activities will favor the development of soft skills such as team working, leadership, autonomy, problem solving, communication skills.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
In the event that the emergency phase linked to the covid pandemic continues into the second half of the year, some specifications of the laboratory may be vary. In particular:
Program: The course program will remain unchanged
Teaching methods - If necessary, some activities (introductory lessons, statistical data analysis, instructions for preparing the report and presentation) will take place remotely in sync on the Teams platform while the experimental activities will take place at the farm. The remote activities will be recorded and made available to students asynchronously on the Ariel course site. All information on face-to-face meetings as well as reference material and news regarding the organization of the course will be available on the Ariel website of the course.
Reference material - The reference material will remain unchanged and will be available on the Ariel website of the course
The learning assessment methods and assessment criteria will remain unchanged
Course syllabus
The activities of the REE SMARTCOW laboratory focus on Precision Dairy Farming that is the measurement (automatic where possible) of physiological, behavioral, productive and reproductive indicators on individual animals, to improve welfare and performances of the cows. Each year a specific theme is identified. For the academic year 2020/2021 the specific issue will be communicated on January 2021.
The laboratory programme 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

The main recordings will focus on a number of parameters:
1) Animal behavior and activity;
2) Environmental conditions in the barn;
3) Milk production, duration of milking, milk flows;
4) Somatic cell and differential somatic cell count of individual milk;
5) Teat conditions and udder hygiene (Teat score, Hygiene score);
6) Body Condition Scoring;
7) Lameness, diseases, injuries
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the dairy cattle husbandry techniques and basic knowledge of farm structures
Teaching methods
The laboratory will be divided into 6 days, between July and September 2021. The laboratory will take place at a dairy farm, mainly the Menozzi educational farm in Landriano and other dairy cattle farms. A few hours are scheduled in the computer room for the statistical data processing. The laboratory includes a few hours of traditional teaching (including a short training on safety at a farm) 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
Teaching Resources
Before the lab starting, some scientific papers about the main lab topics and the protocols for monitoring parameters on farm will be provided to the students
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final evaluation will take into account the participation to the lab activities by the students and to the quality of the final report prepared by the students. In particular, the following aspects will be taken into account in the evaluation of the final report: Structure: clear and appropriate; Introduction: clear and well-organized identification of the context of current knowledge in the area studied with appropriate citations; Objective: clear and concise; Methodology: clearly explained; Figures and tables: well organized and structured; Discussion and conclusions: results discussed in depth and well-motivated conclusions; English language: clear and correct.
The report will have to be ready by the end of September 2021 and the oral presentation of the results will take place in mid-October 2021.
Assessment method: approved/not approved
AGR/19 - ANIMAL SCIENCE - University credits: 0
Laboratories: 32 hours
Lessons: 8 hours
by appointment
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Via Celoria 2