EP3826456A1 - System for precision mineral supplementation of animals - Google Patents

System for precision mineral supplementation of animals

Info

Publication number
EP3826456A1
EP3826456A1 EP19839999.0A EP19839999A EP3826456A1 EP 3826456 A1 EP3826456 A1 EP 3826456A1 EP 19839999 A EP19839999 A EP 19839999A EP 3826456 A1 EP3826456 A1 EP 3826456A1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
mineral
animals
supplementation
feeder
precision
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Pending
Application number
EP19839999.0A
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Other versions
EP3826456A4 (en
Inventor
Henning LYNGSØ FOGED
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Microfeeder AS
Original Assignee
Microfeeder AS
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to DKPA201870497 priority Critical
Application filed by Microfeeder AS filed Critical Microfeeder AS
Priority to PCT/DK2019/050226 priority patent/WO2020020423A1/en
Publication of EP3826456A1 publication Critical patent/EP3826456A1/en
Publication of EP3826456A4 publication Critical patent/EP3826456A4/en
Pending legal-status Critical Current

Links

Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K5/00Feeding devices for stock or game ; Feeding wagons; Feeding stacks
    • A01K5/02Automatic devices
    • A01K5/025Automatic devices with doors or lids activated by the animals to access feeding place or trough
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K5/00Feeding devices for stock or game ; Feeding wagons; Feeding stacks
    • A01K5/02Automatic devices
    • A01K5/0275Automatic devices with mechanisms for delivery of measured doses

Abstract

A system for precision mineral supplementation of animals, such as dairy cows, where the system comprises software for managing and supervising the system, electronic components and dosing aggregates, and mineral feeders for placing inside livestock houses. The system also comprises one or more feeders (1) which feeders (1) comprises a feeder body with a superior positioned integrated feed container (19), a top lid (7), an in-built fodder trough (21), a protective frame (22) and a double wall front flap (3) where the front flap is designed with a hollow between its double walls, wherein an antenna (16), an accelerometer (15) and a slave unit (14) are positioned in a protected way, which front flap (3) in its maximally opened position (20) hits a slanted part of a wall of the integrated feed container (19), shaking the feed container (19) and its content of mineral feed supplements and thus prevent clogging of the supplements, which typically are hygroscopic. A method for operating the precision supplementation system is also disclosed.

Description

System for precision mineral supplementation of animals
Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a system for precision mineral supplementation of animals. Background art and citation of relevant documents
Livestock production, such as dairy production, is constantly undergoing a structural development towards larger herd sizes and higher productivity, and production sys- tems are increasingly standardising the feeding without possibility for individual feed- ing of the single animal in accordance with its individual productivity and metabo- lism. Livestock production is increasingly happening indoor, for instance in the case of dairy cows that typically are kept inside cubicle stables all year round without graz ing, but in some cases with access to small, outside motion areas. Feeding with com plete feeds such as total mixed ration feeding for dairy cows has many advantages and become an often-used feeding practice. However, a disadvantage is that such complete rations are the sole source of vitamins and minerals, which is unfortunate as animals periodically and for various reasons may eat less than needed of the complete feed they are offered. These animals will thus be undersupplied with minerals and vitamins that only to a limited extent is stored in the body, and therefore resulting in low im mune status and increased risk for attack of a large complex of loss-giving production diseases as well as suppressed fertility, while an undersupply with energy and other nutritive factors for a period can happen without adverse effects. Dairy cows, for in stance, would in their critical transition period of the lactation cycle from about three weeks before calving and until about three months after calving eat up to 30-40%, and averagely 20% less of their total mixed ration than required according feeding norms, and while this is unproblematic with respect to their energy balance, it is unfortunate that they are undersupplied with micro minerals and vitamins in that period, where they are exposed to high physiological and social stress, and in the same time ex pected to become pregnant again. The development of livestock production systems into standardised feeding with complete feeds have resulted in increasing mortality rates and increasing frequency of diseases, caused by low immune status due to insuf ficient intake of minerals and vitamins, such as seen for dairy cows in the critical tran sition part of the lactation cycle. The situation causes a large economic loss for the livestock farming industry. The mineral- and vitamin related diseases are associated with pain, wherefore the described situation and trend is an animal welfare issue relat- ing to the ethics of the food production. The low immune status and associated diseas- es and pain among the animals, and the economic loss for the livestock farmers can be alleviated, primarily by ensuring the animals’ access to eat additional mineral feed supplements and by use of different feed additives, including some that raise the availability of minerals and vitamins. Feed additives are normally given as ingredients of mineral feed supplements, and they are relatively expensive, wherefore individual, restricted and precise dosing is envisaged. Furthermore, feed additives are typically alone cost-effective for animals in special situations, such as e.g. the B-vitamin cho- line chloride, which alone is cost-effective for dairy cows a few weeks before and after calving, whereas other feed additives, such as chelated minerals generally are cost-effective until three months after calving. Current available methods for individ- ual and restricted dosing are limited to manual feeding, which is complicated and la- borious. Consequently, an often-used practice is to mix feed additive enriched mineral feed supplements into the complete feeds, such as total mixed rations that are fed to all the animals, with the effect that animals outside the target group are given expensive feed additives and an overdose of mineral feed supplements in relation to their needs. This is an extra production cost for livestock farmers and causing excess of minerals, such as cupper (Cu), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn) and selenium (Se) to be excreted by the animals and being accumulated in soils, where the manure is used as fertiliser, which become polluted and poses a threat to the environment and to human health. Livestock production happens worldwide under a high market competition, economic margins are small, and farmers wish to ensure the highest possible profitability of their operational and capital costs, including of the investments in their stable complexes. It is therefore envisaged that the number of animals and the production per square metre of the stable complex is as large as possible and that necessary equipment covers as little area as possible of the stable complex. It is likewise, for food safety reasons and for the animals’ appetite to the mineral feed supplements, important that they are pro- tected from pollution from e.g. dung and urine splashes that are frequent near the solid and slotted floors of the passageways in the stables. Some countries have made it compulsory to use radio frequency identification-based electronic ear tagging of ani mals for complying with EU Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 of the European Parlia ment and of the Council of 17 July 2000 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef prod- ucts, whereas other countries in the EU and in the rest of the world are on the verge of taking this technology into use. It is obvious to use the electronic ear tags as identifier of animals like dairy cows, whereas the alternative and more traditional use of special transponders that are placed in a collar around the neck or a ribbon around the leg of the animal for identification towards herd management equipment, such as milking and concentrate feeding stations, implies extra costs and labour for installation and maintenance. Livestock farms are increasingly using software and electronics based systems for herd management purposes, such as heat detection, milk recording and reproduction, and many farms already have computer and internet access in the stable office, and require that their management systems integrate with each other to ensure coherence of data and optimal possibility for interpretation of collected data that must be available everywhere on all platforms, including mobile smart phones. The layout of animal stables at farms is rather different, based on the historical devel- opment of the farm and other factors. In some cases, the animals are grouped in differ ent stables sections. For instance, in the case of dairy cows, it is normal to group lac- tating cows and dry cows individually, and these groups can be further divided into sub-groups of animals. This means that the animals in need of extra mineral supple- mentation in some cases are kept in separate groups, and in other cases kept together with other animals. In some cases, the individual groups are small, and/or comprising alone the animals that needs extra mineral supplementation and it may in such situa- tions be considered that the extra mineral supplementation could happen on basis of free choice, giving the animals the possibility for eating extra minerals ad libitum. The increasing herd sizes in animal farming and the increasing labour efficiency with more and more animals per labour unit increases the need for effective systems for monitoring the animals, especially their abnormal behaviour. Increased animal activity is typically associated with heat, whereas reduced activity is associated with disease. A mineral feeder with identification of the animals that visit the feeder is a sensor and the recorded visits can be used for improved animal herd supervision and manage- ment.
Mineral feeds are defined as complementary feeds containing at least 40% crude ash according Regulation (EC) No 767/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Coun- cil of 13 July 2009 on the placing on the market and use of feed, amending European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 and repealing Council Di rective 79/373/EEC, Commission Directive 80/5 l l/EEC, Council Directives 82/47 l/EEC, 83/228/EEC, 93/74/EEC, 93/113/EC and 96/25/EC and Commission Decision 2004/217/EC (Text with EEA relevance). The high content of crude ash means that mineral feeds in general have densities that are higher than other feeds. In addition, the physical form of mineral feeds is most often powdered, consisting of granules of different sizes according the physical form of the containing mineral salts and other constituents. The daily need for mineral feeds is small in relation to the total daily feed intake of the animal, and counted in gram per animal per day, even for large animals like dairy cows. The eating time for intake of a daily ration of mineral feed supplements is negligible and would only take a few seconds, whereas the time for eating a daily ration of other complementary feeds, such as concentrates, is counted in minutes, and eating 5 kg concentrates would typically take 20 minutes. The intake of a daily ration of complete feeds, such as a total mixed ration that include roughage feeds takes typically long time, for instance typically 17 hours per day for dairy cows, in cluding time for rumination. Mineral feed supplements can be offered ad-libitum due to the containing mineral salts that due to their sharp taste alone is eaten by animals in need of the minerals, wherefore the intake is self-regulating, whereas intake of con- centrates in some situations leads to indigestion, and ultimately death of the animal that is given free access to it. Mineral feeds are due to their chemical composition slightly hygroscopic and have a risk for clotting. Mineral feeders are designed in con sideration of the special characteristics of mineral feeds for livestock and are therefore clearly distinguishable from feeders for concentrates and complete feeds.
Accordingly, there is a need for a versatile system for mineral supplementation that is capable of dispensing extra mineral supplement feeds to individual animals, such as dairy cows that may be kept in a number of different groups according their produc tion cycle. It is preferable such precision mineral supplementation system is based on identification of the animals by use of radio frequency identification-based electronic ear tags. The system must preferably be able to dispense more types of mineral sup plement feeds to accommodate the use of mineral feed supplements that are enriched with feed additives with effect in different parts of the production cycle, and the sys tem must be able to dispense the mineral feed supplements in small amounts, counted in grams. Also, as livestock production complexes often comprise place for several hundred animals that need several feeders, the mineral feeders of a precision mineral supplementation system must be connected in a network to ensure accounting with the individual animals’ use of the feeders it has access to. The feeders must take up as little space as possible and be designed for placing both inside the stables and outside in motion areas. It must preferably be designed to reduce risks for pollution of the mineral feed supplements, among other by lifting the feeders from the floor level. The supervision and management of the animals’ use of the precision mineral supplemen tation system is preferably done via software that via a user interface is available eve- ry where on all platforms, including mobile smart phones, and must be able to inte- grate with other electronics and software based herd management systems.
Mineral supplement feeders have been known as long as the importance of mineral supplementation has been recognised, at least since patent US 2371617 A -‘Stock feeder’ was submitted in 1942. Mineral supplement feeders for livestock, such as
PCT/DK 2013/000027 -‘Reuleaux triangular inspired and compartmented free-choice supplementation feeder’, and EP 1102529B1 -‘Mineral supplement feeder’, US 4,324,202 -‘Knock down weather and salt resistant salt and mineral feeder for cattle’ and US 7950351 B2 -‘Combined applicator and feeder for livestock’ are meant for placing outside on a grazing area, and is standing on the ground. US 20040129229 Al -‘Wall hung automated pet feeding machine’ is meant for placing inside, hanging on a wall and thus lifted from the floor, but is for pet food, whose type is complete feed- ing stuffs and whose size would not be suitable for large livestock like dairy cows. US 7,530,327 -‘Device for and a method of automatically supplying feed to animals’ describes a feeder for giving concentrate feeds to dairy cows, but the feeder is due to the design of dosing aggregates not suited for giving mineral feed supplements to the cows, it is standing on the floor and takes up a large space due to the surrounding bars to protect the cow from being chased away while eating its ration, normally several kg of concentrate that takes the cow around 4 minutes per kg to eat. Identification via radio frequencies has been known since 1983, when Charles Walton under US
4384288 A patented‘Portable radio frequency emitting identifier’. There are numer ous of known patents related with cattle or other livestock in combination with radio frequency identification technology, either for dosing the feed, or for detecting the identity of the animal, who use the feeder. GB464945A discloses a device for delivering feed to pigs and comprises a chamber having pivoted panels at the lower parts of which are adjustable to vary their distance above a trough part. The panels are normally pressed by the food in the chamber against adjustable bars. When an animal feeds, it presses a normally closed door into contact with a panel which is thereby vibrated and ensures that food falls down into the trough. A sliding roof covered with corrugated iron and having chain handles is provided.
However, mineral feeders that are designed for use inside stable complexes, able to identify the animals via radio frequency identification-based electronic ear tags and thus enable software based supervision and management of individual and restricted dosing of mineral feed precision supplements in a system with an unlimited amount of feeders, able to dispense more types of mineral feed supplements to animals organised in various groups is not known, neither such mineral feeders that without such elec- tronic components and dosing aggregates can be used for free-choice supplementa- tion.
Disclosure of the invention
The precision mineral supplementation system consists of three main components:
- A mineral feeder with a body, preferably made of plastics, comprising a closed eating trough, a superior positioned feed container with an inferior feed funnel, a top lid, an eating hole, and a top-hinged and double walled feed flap: The animals access the eating trough by pushing the top-hinged feed flap into the feeder body, whereby it hits the slanted side wall of the feed container with the effect that the containing mineral feed supplements are shaken each time an animal uses the feeder, which reduce the risk for clotting of the mineral feed supplements. The feed container has in-build ribs to provide hold for innards that divide the feed container into compartments and in the same time provides hold for dosing aggre gates. The feeder body and its integrated parts are shaped to prevent pollution of the containing mineral feed supplements and the feeding trough, such as pollution from splashes of dung and urine. The front of the feeder is inclined to reduce the possibility for rainwater to enter the feeding trough via the eating hole. The front flap closes automatically by gravity forces when idle, and it has a profile that en sures a drip-nose function to drain rain water and other pollutants that hits the feed flap away from the feeder. The top lid is equipped with a one-hand operated snap- lock to enable easy filling with mineral feed supplements while in the same time preventing the animals’ access to the feed container. A standard mounting bracket, made of steel or alike, enable easy mounting of the feeder at a wall or at other suitable places in the stable or connected outside motion areas, for instance at a half wall besides a water trough, and alike unutilised areas in the stable: The mounting bracket is making the feeder hanging rather than standing on the floor, and is in this way preventing a high wear and tear of the feeder body. The mount ing bracket is furthermore providing protection against the animals impacts on the feeder body, thus increasing its durability. The mounting bracket covers three sides of the feeder body and is open in front of the eating hole of the feeder. It pro- trudes at both sides of the eating hole, thus providing a short funnel to the eating hole and preventing that more than one animal at a time can get its head close to the eating hole. The standard mounting bracket is designed for sideway mounting of the feeder, either on left or right side. By side-mounting is achieved a more sol- id mounting of the feeder, whose horizontal form is with front and back sides that are shorter than its side walls. By a sideway mounting is further achieved that an imals using the feeder is positioned with their body parallel to the wall the feeder is mounted at, thus minimizing the occurrence of situations of hindered traffic of other animals on passageways in the stable and preventing hassle around the feed er and high-ranking animals controlling the use the feeder.
- Electronic components and dosing aggregates that enable restricted and individual dosing of mineral feed supplements: The electronic components includes an an tenna for radio frequency identification of the animals, an accelerometer or alike that sense the positioning of the fodder flap, a slave unit that in correspondence with the master unit and other slave units in the stable manage the dosing aggre gates, that are held by the innards and positioned in the inferior feed funnel of the feed container, a master unit that holds back-end software and logs the animals use of the mineral feeders that communicates via a wireless network and holding soft ware and data for computing the animals’ access and allowance to mineral feeds and the management and supervision of the use of the feeders, a power supply to convert to low voltage, optional electronic ear tags or other suitable radio frequen cy identification-based devices for animal identification at farms that do not use such on beforehand, optional router for connection to the world wide web for farms that do not on beforehand have this in their stable and who wish to have re- mote access to supervise and manage the use of the mineral feeders, a front end user interface for management and supervision of the use of the mineral feeders as well as for synchronising data with herd registration data and other herd manage- ment systems.
Dedicated software that within one animal production system handles the dispens- ing of an unlimited number of mineral feed supplements from an unlimited num ber of mineral feeders to an unlimited number of animal groups according the an imals’ identities and production stage. The software comprises a) backend soft ware that manage the communication between master unit, slave units/feeders, in tegrated cloud-based data stores, and external registers that data may be exchanged with, b) cloud-based data registers that log the animals’ use of the system and hold registers with animal lists and system settings, c) front end software for monitor ing the system use and enable handling of system settings and animal lists. The software is based on individual member accounts, it works on basis of dedicated algorithms and the front-end user interface with a dashboard is accessible via the Internet on all platforms. The algorithms comprise the designation of animals as observation or alarm animals, based on their eating behaviour, including the fre quency of visits to the mineral feeders.
The identity of the animal is registered with an antenna as soon as the electronic ear tag or other radio frequency identification transmitter is close to the antenna, and a small and adjustable dose of the mineral feed supplement, counted in gram, is released by one or both dosing units in case the animal is qualified for that, managed by the software via a dedicated algorithm combined with the farm managers’ system settings and decisions, possibly combined with data that are imported via synchronisation with other herd management systems. The dosing is induced by electronic impulses from a slave unit, which is connected to a master unit and other slave units in a wireless net work. The released supplements fall into the eating trough.
One feeder can administrate dosing of one or several mineral feed supplements, allow ing the possibility to give the animals an individual blend of trace elements, feed addi- tives, micro minerals and alike. The electronically dispensed amount of mineral feed supplements per visit can be adjusted via a user interface and be different for individ- ual animals. The electronic components of software and hardware that are used for the restricted dosing enables monitoring of the mineral supplementation eating behaviour of the individual animal in the target group, such as the time for accessing the feeder, the accumulated dosing over a given period, for instance a week. Radio frequency identi fication-based dosing requires that the animal is equipped with radio frequency trans- mitters such as standardised electronic ear tags that are introduced to comply with EU Regulation (EC) No 1760/2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 July 2000 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine ani mals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products, or similar transmitters. The feeder is designed so that it without the radio frequency identification technology based equipment and innards for dosing offers all animals in the group access to eat additional supplements according free-choice supplementation principles to compen sate for individual needs, such as differences due to individual metabolism of the ani mals. Free-choice supplementation methods allows ad libitum intake according the hunger of the animal for the specific mineral feed supplement, and salt is in that case often used for regulation of the intake.
The individual and restricted dosing is based on radio frequency identification tech nology and allows practicing group-in-group mineral feed supplementation with re- stricted and individual access to additional mineral supplements. Furthermore, mineral feed supplements can have a formulation that comprises expensive feed additives and results in a high unit price, which makes it advantageous with precision feeding of the animals based on restricted and individual dosing of mineral feed supplements. The software is designed so that it can operate the system in a first Calibration Mode, a second Auto Mode or a third Normal Mode. The first Calibration mode is for cali bration of the dosing aggregates. The second Auto Mode is for automatic recognition and listing of animals that visit the feeder, whereby manual registration of the animals becomes unnecessary, which can be practical in cases where all animals in the group should have access to get extra mineral feed supplements and where there is a frequent replacement of the animals in the given group. In the third Normal Mode the system operates as disclosed below, a preferred embodiment of the invention operates the precision mineral supplementation system according the following steps:
a: detect the position of the front flap (3)
b: detect and read the id of the ear tag of the animal (17, 39)
c: communicate the id of the ear tag from the slave system (38) to the master unit (37)
d: check a number of conditions including systems settings and the logged previ- ous visits to the feeder to clarify if the given animal should have dosed minerals from the mineral feeder (FIG. 6)
e: provide one or more doses of mineral feeds to animals that qualify for that (FIG
6)
f: update the visit log (34) with the result of the visit to the feeder so that this can be taken into account at future visits to this or other feeders and be used for updat- ing of the frontend dashboard and other supervision of the system and the indi- vidual animals.
Advantageous effects of the invention
The system for precision mineral supplementation allows extra mineral supplementa- tion of individual animals, such as transition dairy cows in the period from three weeks before calving and until three months after calving, despite they physically are part of a larger group in a loose-housing system and otherwise is offered the same standardised feed ration as the other animals, typically a complete ration containing a standardised amount of minerals and vitamins. Precision mineral supplementation can thus compensate for an undersupply of minerals and vitamins to animals given a standardised feed ration, such as transition dairy cows fed on total mixed rations, which are up to 30-40%, and averagely 20% undersupplied with minerals and vita- mins in the transition period from three weeks before calving and until three months after calving.
The system is thus allowing group-in-group feeding and is for automated precision mineral feed supplementation. The system, consisting of feeders, electronic compo nents and dosing aggregates, and dedicated software, thereby distinguishes itself from conventional mineral feeders that alone are for free choice supplementation, whereas it also can be used as such in case the electronic components are removed from the feeders. The system for precision mineral supplementation also distinguishes substan tially from concentrate feeders that for given animal species are considerably larger, often designed so that the animal can eat its relatively large ration in peace from other animals in the group, with dosing aggregates of substantially larger capacity, suited for handling feeds of physical and chemical compositions that are different from that of mineral feed supplements, and being without data interoperability and supervision and management on all platforms. The precision mineral supplementation system is thus providing an economic method for ensuring sufficient mineral feed intake for animals that need additional supplementation due to their individual metabolism or productivity or for various reasons do not eat sufficient amounts of their complete ration, such as dairy cows during their critical period of the lactation cycle starting around three weeks before calving and lasting until about three months after calving. Sufficient intake of minerals and vitamins in accordance with the animals’ needs is important for their immune status that in turn is of importance for the frequency of production diseases and the mortality rate, closely associated to animal welfare. It is anticipated precision mineral supplementation reduces disease incidences with 10% and increase productivity with 4%.
The targeted supplementation that the feeder makes possible, also with expensive feed additive-enriched mineral feed supplements, is thus preventing an economic loss and make the use of expensive feed additives economically and practically feasible. Fur thermore, the design of the feeder enables its installation inside stables or in connected outside motion areas without requirement for extra space that otherwise could be used for production. In addition, due to the sensing of the identity of animals visiting the feeders and the logging of these visits, the system becomes an important tool for rais ing the quality of supervision and management of animal herds, especially in relation to the detection of heat or detection of disease. The side-mounted way to hang the feeder avoids hassle around the feeder and reduces wear and tear of the feeder body. From a social point of view, the precision mineral supplementation system raises via improved animal welfare the ethical quality of food of animal origin. In addition, it contributes to food safety by avoiding urine and dung to pollute the offered extra min eral supplements. Also, the mineral feeder makes it possible to use radio frequency identification-based electronic ear tags for identification of the animals, thus saving costs for special transponders that are considerably more expensive. The feeders are designed for giving maximal protection to the containing electronic components placed in the hollow of the front flap and at the innards, considering the environment in a stable for animals is characterised by a high ammonia and dust concentration in the air and shaking due to the impacts from animals.
The mineral feeder (1) can be used for free-choice supplementation without electronic components for individual and restricted dosing (14, 15, 16, 27, 36, 37, 38).
Description of at least one way of carrying out the invention by reference to the drawings
FIG. 1 A shows a side view of the feeder body.
FIG. 1B shows the feeder body seen from the front.
FIG. 1C shows an isometric view of the feeder body.
FIG. 2 shows an isometric view of the innards.
FIG. 3 A shows cross-section A-A of the hanging supplements feeder body.
FIG 3B shows cross-section A-A of the side-hanging supplements feeder.
FIG. 4 shows an isometric view of the standard large protective frame.
FIG. 5 shows an isometric view of the mineral feeder.
FIG. 6 shows a flow chart of the dedicated software algorithms that manages the feed er.
FIG. 7 shows a dosing aggregate to be positioned in a tube.
FIG. 8 shows an example of a complete system in a stable.
FIG. 1A shows a side view of the feeder body (1) with the back to the right and the front with the eating hole to the left. The back is positioned horizontal, whereas the front is inclined with slope inwards towards the bottom, and the top is sloping towards the front.
FIG. 1B shows the feeder body seen from the front (2) with the top-hinged front flap (3) covering the eating hole (4) in its resting position, and the positioning of cross- section A-A (5). FIG. 1C shows an isometric view of the feeder body (6) with a hinged top lid (7).
FIG. 2 shows an isometric view of the innards (8) comprising a plate for dividing the in-built feed container in the feeder body into two compartments (9), wings to lead the mineral feeds down to the dosing units (10), and tubes (11) for holding the dosing aggregates.
FIG. 3A shows cross-section A-A of the hanging supplements feeder body (12), with indication of ribs for fixating innards with a front-to-back divider plate for division of the in-built feed container into two compartments (13), and the location of electronic components in the cavity of the double-walled front flap: slave unit (14), accelerome ter (15) and antenna (16).
FIG 3B shows cross-section A-A of the side-hanging supplements feeder, indicating a cow eating from the feeder (17), a one-hand operated snap-lock for opening the hinged top lid (18), an in-built superior positioned feed container with an inferior feed funnel, where innards are placed (19), the double-walled front flap with a profile that ensures a drip-nose function in its maximally opened position (20), and the inferior part of the feeder body that functions as an integrated eating trough (21).
FIG. 4 shows an isometric view of the standard large protective frame (22). The up per/right side is intended for turning against and being bolted to a wall by means of bolts going through four holes (23) in the two vertical, outer tabs. The feeder body is positioned in the mounting bracket by means of bolts through the four upper holes in the inner, vertical tabs (24). Instead of left side mounting, the feeder body can be right side mounted by rotating the mounting bracket 180 degrees around the axis B-B (25).
FIG. 5 shows an isometric view of the mineral feeder body installed in the standard mounting bracket (26).
FIG. 6 shows a flow chart of the dedicated software algorithms that manages the feed er. FIG. 7 shows a dosing aggregate (27) to be positioned in a tube (11) of the innards (8), consisting of a motor (28), a gearbox (29), a cowling (30), a bearing (31) and a spring auger (32) mounted at a centre axis (33).
FIG. 8 shows an example of a complete system in a stable comprising in this example three feeders (38), whose slave units are connected in a wireless network with the master unit (37), which on basis of the animals with their radio frequency identifica- tion device (39) manage the individual and restricted dosing via user interfaces on all platforms (36) using cloud based data logging (34), which is available for data in teroperability and analysis (35).
Technical problems to be solved
The technical problems the precision mineral supplementation system resolves are:
- Providing a system that due to dedicated software improves supervision and man agement of animals, based on the animals eating behaviour, especially in relation to detection of heat and disease, thus compensating for an increasing number of animals per labour unit.
- Making mineral feed precision supplementation in a restricted and individual way possible. Known mineral feeders are based on free-choice principles, their content of mineral feed supplements is offered ad-libitum, and they do not contain any dosing aggregates. The restricted and individual dosing is made possible by equip ping the feeder with electronic components that works according a designated al gorithm, and it is monitored and managed via a special user interface.
- Allowing the dosing of an unlimited number of mineral feed supplements via an unlimited number of feeders to an unlimited number of animal groups. Mineral feed supplements are often enriched by feed additives, which must be used in spe cific limited periods to be cost-efficient, for instance for dairy cows limited to 21 days use in some cases and 100 days use after calving in other cases. The use of more mineral feed supplements is enabled by equipping the mineral feeders with innards that separate the in-built feed container into compartments and comprising hold for dosing aggregates.
- Allowing the dosing of mineral feed supplements. No other known mineral feeder can dose mineral feed supplements, and other devices for dosing feeds are meant for other types of feed, such as concentrates. Mineral feed supplements are differ ent from other feeds, both in terms of chemical and physical parameters, such as hygroscopicity and density, and the dosed amount, which is counted in kg for con centrates and grams for mineral feed supplements, wherefore also the eating time is much different. The dosing aggregate of the mineral feeder is in size, design, choice of material and dosing capacity designated for dosing of mineral feed sup plements, and the two dosing aggregates in a feeder have sizes for being contained in the limited space in the feed funnel under the feed container.
- Identification of cows without additional transponders. Other known devices that identify animals for herd management purposes in the stable require that the ani mals are equipped with a transponder, typically placed in a collar around the neck or a ribbon around a leg. This is an extra cost, whereas the mineral feeder takes advantage of the fact that some countries already started using radio frequency identification-based electronic ear tagging of their animals, and more countries undoubtedly will follow.
- Mineral feeders designed for placing inside dairy cow stables and at limited out side motion areas, whereas existing mineral feeders generally are meant for being placed on the ground in a soft grass field and made from plastics, making them exposed to high wear and tear if placed in dairy cow stables or in motion areas with rough floors or slats made from concrete. Furthermore, the low placement of known mineral feeders that stands on the ground, together with their open eating hole, makes them unfit for use inside dairy cow stables where faeces and urine due to the high animal density and the hard floors splashes a lot, the more the longer you come down towards the floor, both because the animals are depositing manure and urine on the hard floors, and because they kick the manure as they move around in the stable. Thus, splashes of urine and dung can quickly pollute the fod der tray and the mineral supplements in it, if conventional mineral feeders are placed inside stables or in motion areas with hard floors or slats. This is not ac ceptable from a food hygiene perspective, and it affects negatively the intake of the mineral feed supplements, which must be fresh and clean to stimulate animals’ appetite to them. By hanging the feeder on a wall, well above the floor level, and by equipping it with a front flap that covers the eating hole is ensured that the feeder can be placed in stables or in motion areas with hard floors or slats without risk for the in-built fodder trough or the containing minerals to be polluted by fly ing splashes of urine and dung, or by rainwater.
- A design that allows a solid and durable installation of the feeder without occupy- ing space in the stable that otherwise would be available for the livestock produc- tion. Meant for standing on the ground, known mineral feeders would take up space on the floor if placed in a stable or in a motion area, thereby reducing the available space for the animals, which in some countries is regulated by law and in any case important from an animal welfare perspective. The side-hanging mineral feeder utilises the fact that all stables have walls or fences, such as half walls be- sides crossovers between cubicle rows in dairy cow stables. The solid mounting bracket of steel or alike solid material can be side-mounted either on its left or right side, with the further advantage that animals using the feeder do not hinder traffic of other animals in the meantime, which secures a minimum of hassle around the feeder.
The system comprises a LoRa communication between the units and RFID based de- tection of animal ID’s; and dedicated software comprising frontend dashboard user interface accessible via the Internet on all platforms, backend software for managing the system and the animals that use it, and cloud based data storage for system func- tions, interoperability and analysis.
Reference signs
Feeder body (1)
front (2)
top-hinged front flap (3)
eating hole (4)
cross section / figure 3 A and 3B (5)
the feeder body (6)
a hinged top lid (7)
innards (8)
divider plate (9)
wings to lead the mineral feeds down to the dosing units (10) tubes (11) for holding the dosing aggregates
feeder body (12)
ribs for fixating innards with a front-to-back divider plate for division of the in-built feed container into two compartments (13)
slave unit (14)
accelerometer (15)
antenna (16)
a cow eating from the feeder (17)
a one-hand operated snap-lock for opening the hinged top lid (18)
an in-built superior positioned feed container with an inferior feed funnel, where in nards are placed (19)
the double-walled front flap with a profile that ensures a drip-nose function in its max imally opened position (20)
integrated eating trough (21)
large protection frame (22)
four bolt holes for mounting the large protection frame on a wall or alike (23) four bolt holes for fixing the feeder in the large protection frame (24)
the feeder body can be right side mounted by rotating the mounting bracket 180 de grees around the axis B-B (25)
isometric view of the mineral feeder body fixed in the large protective frame (26) dosing aggregate (27)
motor (28)
gearbox (29)
cowling (30)
bearing (31)
spring auger (32)
centre axis (33)
data storage in“the cloud” (34)
data exchange for analysis of“big data”, or for interoperability with other systems (35)
front end / user interface / dashboard on all platforms (36)
master unit (37) feeders equipped with RFID antennas to identify the animals, slave units that com municates with the master and controls the function of the dosing aggregates - one or more per feeder (38)
electronic ear tags based on HDX or FDX ISO standards (39).

Claims

1. A system for precision mineral supplementation of animals, such as dairy cows, characterized in that the system comprises dedicated software for manag- ing and supervising the system, electronic components and dosing aggregates, and special designed mineral feeders for placing inside livestock houses (FIG. 6, FIG. 7, FIG. 8).
2. A precision supplementation system according to claim 1, characterized in that the system comprises one or more feeders (1) which feeders (1) comprises a feeder body with a superior positioned integrated feed container (19), a top lid (7), an in-built fodder trough (21), a standardised large protective frame (FIG. 4), electronic components (14, 15, 16, 37), and a front flap (3) that the front flap is designed with a hollow between its double walls, wherein an antenna (16), an ac- celerometer (15) and a slave unit (14) are positioned in a protected way (14, 15,
16, 20), which front flap (3) in its maximally opened position (20) hits the slanted part of the wall of the integrated feed container (19), shaking the feed container (19) and its content of mineral feed supplements and thus prevent clogging of the supplements, which typically are hygroscopic.
3. A precision supplementation system according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the system comprises an electronic device adapted to detect the identity of animals that opens the front flap (17) and activates dosing of one or more feed supplements according to the allowances given to the specific animal, via one or more dosing aggregates positioned in one or more tubes (11), which dosing ag- gregates comprises motors (28) connected to a gear box (29), a cowling (30) and a bearing (31) via a centre axis (33), driving a spring auger (32).
4. A precision supplementation system according to one of the claim 1- 3, char- acterized in the system comprises electronic hardware and software components for individual and restricted dosing of mineral feed supplements, including an an tenna (14), an accelerometer (15) and a slave unit (16), dosing aggregates (27), a master unit (37), dedicated software (FIG. 6), and user interface for supervision and management (36).
5. A precision supplementation system according to claims 1-4, characterized in that it the system (FIG. 6, FIG. 8) is intended for individual and restricted preci- sion supplementation of livestock with mineral feeds.
6. A precision supplementation system according to one of the claims 1-5, characterized in that the system comprised mineral feeders (1) which comprises a su- perior positioned integrated feed container (19) with an inferior feed funnel, which provides space for the innards (FIG. 2) with divider plate (9) and hold for dosing aggregates (27), alternatively leads the mineral feed supplements down to the in-built fodder tray (21).
7. A precision supplementation system according to claims 1-6, characterized in that it the system (FIG. 8) due to its design of the mineral feeder where position ing of the antenna (14) is able to identify animals that are equipped with devices for radio frequency identification, such as electronic ear tags (39).
8. A precision supplementation system according to one of the claims 1-7, characterized in that it the system 7 due to the design and function of electronic soft- ware and hardware components is able to be part of a precision supplementation system that can dispense one or more types of mineral feed supplements to one or more groups of animals from one or more feeders (FIG. 6, FIG. 8).
9. A precision supplementation system according to one of the claims 1-8, characterized in that it (FIG. 6, FIG. 8) via electronic hardware and software compo- nents collects data about the animals’ use of the system (FIG. 6, FIG. 8), which enable supervision of the entire system and animal herd, the individual animals eating behaviour, and analysis of possible patterns in animals eating behaviour re- lated to their productivity, health and reproduction.
10. A precision supplementation system according to one of the claims 1-9, characterized in that the system comprises mineral feeders (1) which comprises a front flap (3) with a profile that ensures rainwater and dung hitting the front flap (3) is drained away from the mineral feeder (1) due to the slanted positioning of the front flap (3) and its profile that functions like a drip nose (20).
11. A method for operating a precision supplementation system (FIG. 6, FIG. 8) as disclosed in the claims 1-10, characterized in that the system comprised soft- ware adapted to operate the system in a first Calibration Mode for calibration of the dosing aggregates further is the software adapted to operate the system in a second Auto Mode for automatic recognition and listing of animals, further is the software adapted to operate in third Normal Mode, in the third Normal Mode, the system is adapted to operates according the following steps: a: detect the position of the front flap (3) b: detect and read the id of the ear tag of the animal (17, 39) c: communicate the id of the ear tag from the slave system (38) to the master unit (37) d: check a number of conditions including systems settings and the logged previ- ous visits to the feeder to clarify if the given animal should have dosed minerals from the mineral feeder (FIG. 6) e: provide one or more doses of mineral feeds to animals that qualify for that (FIG
6) f: update the visit log (34) with the result of the visit to the feeder so that this can be taken into account at future visits to this or other feeders and be used for updat- ing of the frontend dashboard (36) and other supervision of the system and the in dividual animals.
EP19839999.0A 2018-07-23 2019-07-10 System for precision mineral supplementation of animals Pending EP3826456A4 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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DKPA201870497 2018-07-23
PCT/DK2019/050226 WO2020020423A1 (en) 2018-07-23 2019-07-10 System for precision mineral supplementation of animals

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CN111213897B (en) * 2020-02-04 2022-05-31 邓建清 Cattle and sheep lick brick residue powder multi-surface scraping and separating device

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GB464945A (en) * 1936-01-24 1937-04-28 George Marshall Improvements in devices for delivering food to animals
DE4141347A1 (en) * 1991-12-15 1993-06-17 Martin Foerster DEVICE AND METHOD FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF CATTLE INTO A FEED Trough
WO2005092019A2 (en) * 2004-03-22 2005-10-06 Turner Robert M Animal feeding device and method
US7895973B1 (en) * 2006-02-24 2011-03-01 Steve Whelan Automatic feeding system, device and method
WO2015184297A1 (en) * 2014-05-29 2015-12-03 Pettrax, Inc. In-home pet feeding and monitoring system
US10085419B2 (en) * 2015-07-13 2018-10-02 C-Lock Inc. Modular livestock feed system for measuring animal intake and monitoring animal health

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