New Technology To Help Dairy Farmers Raise Healthy Cows


Dairy Cows

Established by Julia Somerdin in 2017, the startup Labby has made MilKey, a way to support dairy farmers monitor the well being of their cows. Credit score: MIT News

Startup enterprise has developed an optical milk scanner based mostly on materials-sensing technology that dairy farmers can use to evaluate the wellbeing of their cows.

Close to the environment, dairy farmers have an facts problem. To get the most accurate measurements of cow wellbeing and milk top quality, numerous have to ship milk samples to labs or hold out for a technician to come to the farm to collect milk samples from each individual cow.

Now the startup Labby is aiding farmers get a clearer picture of their cows’ wellness with a system that can check milk from personal cows in fewer than 10 seconds.

Labby’s system sits at the front of an analytics system that can aid farmers detect conditions right before they spread to the relaxation of the herd. Down the line, it could also give veterinarians historical health and fitness information on precise animals, assist dairy farmers discover greatest tactics, and enable farmers to increase transparency with people.

Every person understands the ability of facts to strengthen overall health,” suggests Labby CEO Julia Somerdin, who cofounded the corporation with previous

Somerdin and Das did not expect to devote the very last 5 many years finding out about cows, but their time at MIT aided them discover dairy farming as an location where their technologies could make a big influence.

Somerdin, who was enrolled in MIT’s master’s application in devices style and design and administration but still left to pursue Labby just before earning a diploma, had worked in programs engineering and technical product improvement for 15 yrs when she resolved to occur to MIT in 2013.

“I reached a issue the place I realized I wished to do something unique, but I did not know what that was,” Somerdin remembers. “I resolved to go back to faculty to recharge myself and get some thoughts.”


The company uses an optical sensing technologies and AI to observe milk excellent and disease in real time. MilkKey by Labby’s platform can detect stages of milk body fat and protein of every single modest batch of milk to assist farmers and vets continue to keep cows healthier. Credit score: Courtesy of Labby

Somerdin’s firm sponsored her instruction at MIT, and she describes herself as a total-time staff, whole-time scholar, and comprehensive-time volunteer throughout her time on campus. She volunteered for programs together with MIT-Chief and took several entrepreneurship courses, including a Media Lab course where by she satisfied Das.

“I wished to begin a mission-driven startup,” Somerdin states. “I was not intrigued in earning yet another application. We have enough apps in life.”

The conventional approach for checking cow well being and milk top quality is time-consuming and costly. As a consequence, Somerdin says most farmers only run some assessments at the time a month. The absence of checking can direct to the spread of conditions like mastitis, a painful infection that also lowers milk top quality.

Mastitis is the most typical and expensive condition in dairy farming,” Somerdin says. “Mastitis is contagious and difficult to detect, so it pretty simply spreads to the rest of the herd.”

Labby’s scanner makes use of a technological innovation named mobile spectroscopy, which can get information and facts on milk composition these types of as milk body fat, protein, and somatic mobile depend (SCC). Larger SCC amounts indicate mastitis or an infection that farmers can take care of ahead of it spreads or worsens.

Labby has been performing with farms in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts since 2019, despite the fact that the pandemic slowed down the company’s ideas to scale. Labby also sells its devices to universities and firms interested in researching the data it is accumulating.

“Everyone desires extra info, primarily at the individual cow level, but that is been definitely tricky to get up till now,” Somerdin suggests.

This spring, a few MIT graduate learners will spend a 7 days on Labby’s spouse farms in Pennsylvania as section of business-sponsored investigation with the purpose of strengthening the design of the product or service and generating it additional simple for farms close to the globe.

Down the line, Labby wants its system to help with community-constructing in the dairy farming marketplace.

“We’re a hardware company, but we see info as the crucial to our resolution,” Somerdin claims. “We want to turn into a milk high-quality certification system, which will boost self esteem in the field and for the shopper. In the field, farmers can improved sustain animal wellness and customers will know they’re selecting up milk from the greatest excellent farms with very good milk. And for the purchaser, enhanced transparency lets farmers to talk with the public and prove they are treating their animals well.”

For Somerdin, all of Labby’s do the job comes down to just one uncomplicated perception.

“We imagine happy cows get you improved milk, and far better milk sales opportunities to satisfied shoppers,” Somerdin says. “There’s a harmony concerning the animal and the human. It’s all linked.”


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