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Ruth Ashley

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

I found Horizon is a million times better than T4C, once I’d taken the time to learn and get familiar with the programme. It’s providing a lot more information which is literally at my fingertips, and for the first time I’ve live data both on my phone app, as well as on the office desktop. 

Horizon is also providing us with advice - an accurate reflection of each individual cow, and the opportunity to change the relevant settings, which in turn is helping us to better manage the herd. We can now also benchmark each cow against the whole herd.

There’s one interface for both office and mobile, and it’s a lot more visual; the T4C dials have been replaced by a KPI dashboard with graphs demonstrating trends over a one-week period.

Easy management; I input data from my phone app whilst out amongst the cows; it’s ‘on the go’ and made things a lot quicker. I no longer have to make handwritten notes and then run back to the office to introduce to the desktop.

Health: I’ve found the programme is providing more targeted heads up information. For example, we give propylene glycol to any freshly calved cows or heifers that need it, however the robot is flagging up others to treat early - those ketosis suspect cows demonstrating a deviation to their milk fat to protein ratio. 

I’m also aware it is accurately recording sick cows’ milk temperature, conductivity readings per quarter and milk quality control which detects milk colour changes, together with rumination monitoring.

Health treatment: this cell allows me to input individual cow and heifer information and data acceptable to Red Tractor, for example routine post calving treatment relief - amount, batch number and expiry date.

Reproduction: better heat detection; Horizon is more accurately recording increased activity and reduced rumination, and I get an up to date notification - a ping on my app, as soon as a cow is on heat.

Cow Index: it’s worked out on a daily basis, something we couldn’t physically do. Whilst we know there are good cows and those not so good, then there are those in between. This new index ranks each individual based on four criteria - production, health, reproduction and robot efficiency, and highlights which cows to breed from; it makes our sexed semen decisions so much easier.

Forward planning: as well as continually calculating data per cow, the programme is accurately predicting yield per cow per lactation, margin per cow, based on milk revenue and cost of concentrate fed and PMR diet and whole herd yield for the next 18 months - a figure our milk processor likes.

Ruth Ashley farming in partnership with husband Steve, 103 cow commercial herd, Shropshire.

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