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Development and validation of automated concentrate feeder for dairy calves during preweaned phase - Systech feeder


Currently, in Brazil, there is no automatized system to control starter supply for dairy calves raised in individual calf housing during preweaned phase. Modern animal production demands technological innovations for parameters which have an economic and productive impact. Systech Feeder proposes the development and following validation of an intelligent feeder which enables obtaining of generation of consumption through sensors. After data is collected to a cloud, it can be accessed by mobile on an app with daily information, graphs, and reports that allow calf monitoring and help decision-making. Supplementary, notifications are sent by the app in respect of the main events observed in each hutch, such as lack of starter, consumption reduction, and when the calf reaches minimal consumption required for weaning. LEDs on the houses turn on for each notification, apart from the app. These LEDs are a way of direct communication between the equipment and the calf taker, allowing a rapid a punctual action. Systech Feeder's current pre-prototype resulted from Ideas for Milk (Embrapa Gado de Leite) and Farm of the Future (Neovia) editions of 2016 and 2017. It was based on a single structure which could not be disassembled, but this was incompatible with a commercial product. The proposed project intends to overcome this and other technical and functional obstacles. Initially, sensors will be reassessed and integrated aiming to obtain and process data, being designed as an electronic component. Concentrate reservoir will also be optimized to facilitate its removal from the hucth and sanitation. The third component of the system will be the hutch physical structure itself, which will be made with a galvanized material, roof with thermal insulation, wheels for movement and solar panel. The whole physical structure will be completely demountable and easily interconnected to the electronic component by a system plug and play. After optimization steps, integration among the three components will be addressed, so that a final prototype is created, which will be subjected to the experimental evaluation. The field test will be developed with 24 hutches and minimal duration of 60 days. The experimental evaluation aims to comparatively validate daily starter consumption based on the information collected by sensors. The potential alterations on the chemical composition of starter provided will be evaluated throughout the experiment to ensure that the system is adequate for starter storage. Daily consumption information, led triggering, and any starter waste will be registered, allowing a feedback on the aspects to be improved on the system. Throughout the project, the current app will be improved with functions to make it practical, intuitive and to allow the nutritional management of calves. The project's final result is a unique and innovative system which allows real-time and highly accurate automatic monitoring of dairy calves consumption. (AU)