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Alison Annandale

Future farming at your fingertips: Horizon

We are currently switching on Horizon, Lely’s new software programme on units throughout the Midlands and Wales. Horizon is taking robot data and using smart algorithms to provide insight, in depth analysis and advice enabling our farmers to respond quickly and be better equipped knowing what action to take.

We met with Alison Annandale, one of our customers, who are amongst those who say it’s taken their management to the next level. However, in the first instance, Alison says they got a lot of support from our Center’s FMS to get the programme up and running.

I think Horizon is far better than T4C; I’ve found its straightforward to use and is providing us with a wealth of information that is continually being updated with individual cow performance. I picked up how to use from basic training in Lely’s office, it’s easy to use, and easy to input information once I’d got used to the settings and where to find them.

I like app and also being able to keep an eye on the programme on my ipad in the kitchen. And whilst I’m more than aware the programme doesn’t connect with BCMS, I prefer that independence - if I make an error, then it doesn’t impact the whole system.

Management: the interface featuring the KPI graphs is great; it provides a snap shot of the herd and its performance over a seven-day period, all on one page. I can see what’s happening for example if there’s a spike in yield we question what’s upsetting the cows, was it a one off, or something more serious to immediately investigate. 

Having the app makes life easier, for example if we have a vet fertility visit, I’m no longer rushing back and forward to the office, I literally have each individual cow’s data in my hand and can directly input more rather than having to duplicate with pen and paper and then transfer back in the office. 

Horizon has a setting for transferred animals which enables us to keep track of why individuals were culled and we’re able to hand over to the vet in one document for herd health planning. Previously when we sold a cow it was deleted from T4C.

Reproduction: Horizon offers a snapshot of activity over the next three months - it predicts what’s coming up for calving and drying off as well as in milk. And its proving to be 99.9% accurate alerting me each time a cow is ready to serve. 

We were a flying herd until four years ago when we started breeding our own replacements. The data Horizon supplies on each individual from birth to lactation, yield, health treatments and so on is really useful to cross reference with the ABS Genus report towards providing more accurate and efficient sire selection, and in particular be realistic about which to put to sexed semen.

Overall, we want to use Horizon to its full potential; after a few months it’s already helping is to make more of what we’ve already got. 

Alison Annandale, farming in partnership with husband Steve, 85 cow commercial herd, Shropshire