Dairy dating to dairy data – will Catfishing for cows be swiped to the left?


Posted: May 31, 2024

Dr. Nial O’Boyle

I grew up before the age of online dating, so fortunately or unfortunately, (delete as you deem appropriate), I missed that experience. Filters were only used to keep milk clean, and swiping left and right was something the cows did with their tails. However, after watching “Catfish” on MTV, I realised the dairy industry has been well ahead of the trend on this. I initially was amazed how anyone could enter into a relationship based on photos and a few phone calls. On reflection, however, I realised the dairy industry has been ahead of the trend. No doubt there are many dairy farmers who closely follow pedigrees, cow families, and expertly match their bulls, but there are many who are swayed by a pretty photo and a catchy name. Just like a Catfish gone wrong, you can have a long-term relationship that ends up a high-maintenance, expensive mistake.

Before Tinder, Bumble and other online platforms were even created, the dairy industry was improving their decision algorithms for matchmaking. The shift to focus on fertility and the advent of genomic commercial traits, bolstered the milk and linear assessment available. There is already more reliable information to select a match for your cow, than to select a potential life-partner. Although data is coming online soon which will further augment your dairy dating decisions.

New data sources from technologies such as sensors, milk analysis and machine vision are synergising with emerging data-analysing capabilities to further improve progress. For example, the power of Body Condition Scoring (BCS) has been known for decades, but it is very challenging for skilled labour to do it consistently, objectively, and frequently. CattleEye can provide this daily data, enabling precise management of rations to improve health, welfare, and profitability. Pen responses to ration or forage changes can be monitored in BCS terms as well as milk, allowing nutritionists to monitor their effectiveness. Furthermore, these data can be synergised with other data flows to help develop new phenotypes; cows more resistant to excessive condition loss can be identified, and more resilient and fertile genetics can be selected.

By creating and reeling in data bytes rather than taking the bait, dairy farmers are charting a course towards a smarter, more profitable industry.