This is reportedly the first time in the world that artificial intelligence is used to give consumers up-to-date information on animal welfare. Arla Finland’s CEO Kai Gyllström explains that the purpose of the new innovative app is to meet consumer expectations.
– It is important for people to be sure that the living conditions of dairy farm cows are typical of their species and that the cows are treated well. We wanted to make the familiar Arla Milkchain even more transparent for the consumers by giving them a new opportunity to follow the cows’ conditions as they actually are. Dairy farms can also take advantage of the AI data to improve their own operations, says Gyllström.
The Arla Iris app collects and combines data on cleanliness, nutrition and health, as well as outdoor activities, movement, and everyday operations at the Tikka organic dairy farm. One data source is an AI-powered digital camera prototype developed especially for the project. The camera examines footage continuously and sends aggregated data daily to the Arla Milkchain, where it is openly available.
– The welfare of the cows is made up of fairly simple things, like eating and the possibility to rest comfortably. Personally, I pay attention to how comfortably the cows can lie down, as well as their nutrition and basic health. Utilizing artificial intelligence and observing cows through the camera provides complementary information to human observation throughout the year. Another advantage of using a camera is that deviations can be picked up quickly, says CEO Essi Wallenius of Armenta Benessi, a company that conducts animal welfare audits.
Exceptional production transparency is nothing new to the Tikka farm owners. For more than a year now, origin information for the Single Estate Organic Milk has been visible to consumers in the Arla Milkchain. The information can be found by entering the milk packaging date at arla.fi/tikantila.
– We have always sought to do more than what is required of dairy farms in Finland to ensure animal welfare. The technology developed by Arla does not replace the observations conducted by welfare specialists, doctors and our own staff, but it can strengthen the whole, and most importantly – improve the Finnish people’s understanding of dairy farms and the factors that influence the welfare of cows, farmer Tuomo Mäkinen explains.
The Arla Milkchain has been implemented in collaboration with growth agency Truly Agency and blockchain technology expert Empirica Finland. Representatives from The Research Centre for Animal Welfare and from Armenta Benessi, a company that conducts animal welfare audits, acted as external experts in the development of Arla Iris. The Single Estate Dairy Milk is packaged in Arla Finland’s co-operative dairy Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri.