Thermal imaging is not new in the field of technology. Decades ago, this technology started off being used by the military to search for enemies in the dark. These days, though, you can use thermal imaging in a wide variety of situations ranging from law enforcement to building maintenance and repair.
While there isn’t much innovation going on in this technology lately, people have found more creative ways of using it across different industries. One excellent example is the use of thermal imaging cameras on dairy farms.
In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at how thermal imaging can lead to healthier, happier cows on a dairy farm.
The Benefits Of Using Thermal Imaging On A Dairy Farm
A thermal imaging camera allows you to see the heat patterns on your livestock. As a dairy farmer, that will help you improve your farm's operations in a handful of ways. Here are a few examples.
1. Non-invasive Identification Of Injuries Or Sickness
When a cow gets injured or falls sick, parts of its body will start to get warm; much like a human being gets a hot forehead when they have a fever. A thermal imaging camera will be able to pick up on that increased temperature very quickly.
Higher temperatures might point to a fever (which might suggest an infection) or even joint and muscle problems as well. Through thermal imaging, all of these become very easy to see.
Best of all, you’ll be able to identify that injury or sickness in a non-invasive way. No poking or prodding is necessary, which makes your job easier and your cows happier.
2. No Need To Catch And Secure The Animal For Inspection
A farmer with a thermal imaging camera in hand can walk around and inspect multiple cows as they graze out in the field. That takes away the need to catch and secure individual cows before taking a closer look at the status of their health.
For the cows, that means their daily routines go uninterrupted. On the other hand, the farmer saves a lot of time and effort, especially since they can single-handedly inspect several cows in a short period of time. The cows won’t even know that you’re giving them a checkup with these cameras!
3. Pinpoint Accuracy Of Those Ailments
A thermal imaging camera also offers the benefit of pinpoint accuracy. As you look at the camera’s display, you’ll be able to see the precise body parts on the cow that are giving off excess heat.
Even before calling in the veterinarian, the farmer will be able to narrow down the possible reasons for that excess heat. His experience can guide him in making an educated guess on whether or not it's a sickness or if it might be a muscle or joint problem instead.
4. Reduced Use Of Antibiotics And Medication
Believe it or not, using a thermal imaging camera on a dairy farm will lead to less antibiotic and medication use. Some farmers have the habit of using antibiotics as a blanket solution whenever they think the cow is unwell. Of course, that could lead to more significant problems down the line.
As mentioned in the previous point, a thermal imaging camera helps farmers figure out what’s making the cow feel unwell. With that, it becomes easier to identify ailments that do not require antibiotic use, like an injured limb or muscle pain.
With more selective use of medication, farmers will reduce their spending, and cows will lead happier lives.
5. Possibly Automated Operation
Thermal imaging cameras come in all shapes and sizes. For more extensive dairy farming operations with bigger budgets, farmers can set up automated thermal imaging systems instead.
That makes it much easier to reap the benefits mentioned earlier without having to scan one cow at a time with a handheld thermal imaging camera.
Automated systems include cameras that can interpret the heat signatures it picks up on cows, identifying sickness and other ailments all by itself.
Why Thermal Imaging Cameras are Special?
For those who haven’t handled thermal imaging technology before, all of this might seem to work like magic. But how does the technology work, and why can’t regular cameras do the same thing?
Unlike the cameras on our smartphones, thermal imaging cameras can pick up on infrared radiation from heat. That’s why a hotter surface, or in this case a hotter cow, will give off more infrared radiation than the things around it.
Thermal imaging cameras can do more than just ‘see’ the heat. It can also measure the precise temperature of anything that you point it to. That kind of precision in a dairy farmer's hands will go a very long way towards improving the farm’s operations and the cows’ wellbeing.