Nottingham University joins with industry giant Intel, and Farm Wizard to create smart sensor

Veterinary researchers at Nottingham University are joining with Intel, and agricultural software developer Farm Wizard to create a new smart wearable device that can automatically detect lameness in sheep.

Lameness is the biggest health and welfare problem on sheep farms, costing the sector around £80m a year. More than 90% of farmers in the UK report lameness in their flocks, most of which is caused by footrot – a bacterial infection.

The new technical feasibility study and prototype tagging and monitoring system has been developed by a Nottingham Vet School researcher, Associate Professor Jasmeet Kaler, who said: “Our new system is a smart device – a wearable technology that we hope will be a game-changing investment for sheep farmers and a first for the industry.

“It consists of a sensing device worn on a sheep’s ear tag that gathers accelerometer and gyroscope data effectively tracking the animal’s behaviour and movement, as well as its gait.

“I think what is very novel about this technology is that it utilises edge processing which means it doesn’t necessarily need to send all the data to the Cloud because it does the thinking on the device.

“This is an advantage when it comes to battery life.. We are currently validating the results in a larger trial and we hope the technology will be available after some further work.”

The sheep lameness smart sensor project has been funded by Innovate UK and the BBSRC and was recently presented at the Oxford Farming Conference’s Innovation Hub. The first paper from this project will be available soon in the upcoming issue in the journal Royal Society Open Science.