Westmeath farm family invent livestock fence operated by robots


The automated moving fence system uses two robots to allocate fresh grass to livestock on a continual basis at a rate that ensures the entire sward is consumed before the fence moves again.

Westmeath farm family invent livestock fence operated by robots

  • ADDED
  • 1 year ago

The automated moving fence system uses two robots to allocate fresh grass to livestock on a continual basis at a rate that ensures the entire sward is consumed before the fence moves again.

FreshGraze is an idea that was created by 18-year-old James and 17-year-old Charlie Drumm, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

The innovation duo has made the tedious but essential task of moving an electric fence easier for busy and hard-working livestock farmers.

The brothers combined their extensive IT skills with their agricultural knowledge to create a simple; reliable and robust system and a powerful tool for managing grassland.

Family Act

The experienced their lightbulb moment when they were putting up an electric fence for strip grazing in the rain, after they arrived home from football training with their local Downs GAA club.

They were encouraged by their parents - James - who was a dairy farmer for over three decades and supplied Lakeland Dairies with both winter and spring milk and by their mother Laura who is a livestock and equine veterinary practitioner.

The family has now patented Freshgrazing - a cyber-physical device which will revolutionise grassland production; milk yields and liveweight gain.

Their concept is Fresh Grazing- their prototype introduces Fresh Graze, an automated moving fence system using two robots to allocate fresh grass to livestock on a continual basis at a rate that ensures the entire sward is consumed before the fence moves again.

Success

Their invention has been entered for an award and will be shown on their stand in the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships.

The family have been working on this project for over three years and acknowledge the assistance and encouragement they have received from Enterprise Ireland; Athlone and Tralee Institutions of Technology and Teagasc.

Thomas believes that the payback for a dairy farmer could be within 18 months or two years of purchase.

After a suitable trial period and feedback from early customers, their prototype should be ready for a market launch within two years to customers in Ireland, EU and worldwide.

Thomas retired from dairy farming in 2014 when he was milking 80 cows and has been a part-time suckler farmer and working full time on the FreshGraze project since then.

He says “we are part of the 4th industrial revolution that can use digital; Internet of Things (IOT) and mechatronics to have an impact on soil; plant; animal; farmer; processor and consumer for the good of society”.

Benefits

  • It saves a busy dairy farmer a lot of time moving fences and ensures that it is done at the right time as the software knows the stocking rate and grass availability;
  • It prevents selective grazing and allows for more research into mixed-species swards;
  • These swards improve biodiversity; soil fertility; animal and plant health and deliver a more wholesome product for the consumer
  • The cows don’t walk or contaminate the grass they are about pasture utilisation is much better;
  • Freshgrazing provides flexibility and eases grassland management leaving decisions easy to implement; improving grass production and utilisation;
  • It leaves a digital footprint for farm-to-fork traceability while effective utilisation of mixed species and clover swards promote sustainable agricultural production;
  • Data from the milking parlour and grass measuring devices can be integrated with the Fresh Graze software to optimise milk production and liveweight gain.

Thomas, Charlie and James will have a stand in the Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships.

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