Nikon unveils AI system to detect cows on the verge of giving birth

Nikon has introduced an innovative system that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to notify farmers when a cow is about to give birth.

In a groundbreaking development for the agricultural sector, Nikon has unveiled an innovative AI system designed to transform the way farmers manage their livestock. This cutting-edge technology leverages artificial intelligence to detect when a cow is on the verge of giving birth, offering unprecedented efficiency and relief for farmers engaged in the crucial task of monitoring pregnancies.

The AI system, set to be available in Japan this month, marks a significant step forward in the realm of smart farming. With cameras strategically installed on farms, the system analyzes the movements of cows, providing real-time insights into their pregnancy status. The goal is to streamline the monitoring process, making it less labour-intensive for farmers and significantly enhancing overall efficiency.

The estimated cost of implementing this AI system is approximately ¥900,000 ($6,200) per year for a farm with 100 cows. Alongside the hardware, a dedicated smartphone application acts as a central hub, alerting farmers when a cow is approaching its due date. This integrated approach aims to not only simplify the monitoring process but also empower farmers with timely information crucial for ensuring the health and well-being of their livestock.

Pregnant cows exhibit distinct signs, such as increased movement and the initiation of the release of the amniotic sac containing the calf, around five hours before going into labour. Nikon’s AI system has been developed after collecting extensive data since the fall of 2021, with proof-of-concept experiments conducted on four farms in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, since February 2023.

Kazuhiro Hirano, an official from Nikon, emphasized the broader applications of the company’s image analysis technology during a news conference in December. Beyond the current focus on detecting imminent births, the vision includes expanding the system’s capabilities to identify when a cow is in heat and other behavioural patterns. This forward-looking approach aligns with the broader trend of integrating advanced technologies to optimize various aspects of agricultural practices.

Keita Higuchi, a livestock farmer who participated in the system’s experiment, expressed satisfaction with its utility. Managing around 60 calvings annually, Higuchi highlighted the system’s transformative impact, significantly reducing the need for frequent manual checks on expectant mothers in the lead-up to calving. The positive feedback from early adopters underscores the potential of Nikon’s AI system to revolutionize traditional farming practices.

The introduction of this AI-driven solution comes at a crucial juncture for the agriculture industry, where technological advancements are increasingly becoming key drivers of efficiency and sustainability. Nikon’s foray into smart farming reflects a broader industry trend toward precision agriculture, where data-driven insights and automation play pivotal roles in enhancing productivity.

As the AI system makes its debut, it holds the promise of not only improving the operational aspects of livestock management but also contributing to the overall welfare of the animals. By combining technological innovation with the age-old practices of agriculture, Nikon’s AI system exemplifies the transformative potential of marrying tradition with cutting-edge technology in the pursuit of a more sustainable and efficient future for farming.