Nikon Corp. has developed a system that uses artificial intelligence to alert farmers if a cow is about to give birth, analyzing their movements with cameras installed on farms.

The technology, which is going on sale in Japan this month, aims to ease the burden on farmers, who need to conduct regular checks on pregnant cows in the weeks leading up to them giving birth, and help them increase efficiency.

The system is estimated to cost approximately 900,000 yen ($6,200) per year for a farm with 100 cows. A dedicated smartphone application is used to alert farmers when a calf is due.

A camera (bottom R) is installed in a cattle barn to detect when a cow is close to giving birth. (Photo courtesy of Nikon Corp.)(Kyodo)

According to Nikon, a pregnant cow exhibits typical signs around five hours before going into labor, such as increased movement and the start of the release of the amniotic sac containing the calf.

Data for training the AI has been collected since the fall of 2021, with proof-of-concept experiments conducted on four farms in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, since February 2023.

Nikon official Kazuhiro Hirano talked about the benefits of utilizing Nikon's image analysis technology during a press conference in December, saying that in the future, "we want to be able to also detect when a female cow is in heat and other behavioral patterns."

Keita Higuchi, a livestock farmer in his mid-30s who participated in the experiment, was satisfied with the system's utility.

"We deliver about 60 calves per year, and had to check the mothers every few hours from around a month before they are due. This system has been a great help," Higuchi said.

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