Mastitis, the most common and costly disease affecting dairy cows, is a significant challenge for the global dairy industry.
Aside from the reduction in milk production and quality, and the resulting [significant] economic losses for farmers, mastitis has severe consequences on the welfare of individual animals and entire dairy herds.
With a globally increasing population that requires more food sources, reducing mastitis is an important issue that needs solving. While best practice guidelines might help achieve this to a certain extent, controlling and preventing mastitis from spreading right through dairy herds will ultimately be the ability to detect it early, and accurately.
But for many farmers, the economics associated with installing expensive systems which help early identification but may not necessarily provide the accuracy required, simply don’t add up.
Articulating the Challenge:
As the son of a farmer, Liam Kampshof understood the importance of good udder health and milk quality to farm productivity. He also saw first-hand the damage that mastitis could have on individual animals and entire farms.
When we first met Liam and he articulated the challenge his technology was aiming to solve - finding an inexpensive way to quickly and accurately detect mastitis to improve cow health and enhance milk production, we thought OK, if this works the impact on the ability to nourish a growing global population by securing the supply of high-quality milk, could be significant.
For an average dairy farm, detecting mastitis early enough to make a difference is very expensive. The cost of installing the mastitis detection technology is about the same as what the disease will cost so the only viable option is antibiotics, and in the case of repeat infections, culling.
Recognising the tremendous potential of Liam, his technology and the underlying science, we made a strategic investment in July 2022. Our investment aims to support the validation of the mastitis market demand and pricing, as well as the testing ofBovonic's technology on productive dairy farms during normal milking cycles.
QuadSense – the Technology:
The technology Bovonic has developed is QuadSense - an in-line, automated mastitis detection system. Robust, simple to install and low maintenance, QuadSense will offer dairy farmers a solution that is quick, accurate and cost-effective.
With a potential cost-benefit ratio significantly exceeding the current 1:1 this technology could transform the dairy industry. Not only does it stack up economically, but because of its accuracy and speed, it could contribute to the overall health and well-being of dairy animals which in turn, improves and increases milk production.
The Market Opportunity:
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are over 270m dairy cows worldwide. As our global population grows, cows and the milk they produce are becoming an increasingly important commodity, yet the pressures to increase the milk-per-cow ratio can have a negative impact on a cow’s health – mastitis being a key issue.
Mastitis is the most expensive disease the dairy industry faces, costing farmers a staggering US$19 to $32 billion annually. Traditional testing regimes are often expensive, time-consuming and inaccurate, leading to significant limitations in detecting the disease early enough to make a difference to milk quality and production, and animal welfare.
Because of the associated cost, only about 7% of dairy farms in New Zealand currently use in-line mastitis detection technologies. But it is also our understanding that due to high error rates, farmers are increasingly choosing not to use these systems, despite having them installed.
However, with the increasing regulatory pressures around animal welfare and milk quality, and social pressures to increase milk production, farmers are going to need to install effective monitoring systems. We believe this demand will create a market opportunity estimated at over US$1.5 billion per annum.
Recognising the potential:
Developing technology in New Zealand definitely has its advantages.
While mastitis impacts dairy herds around the world, the cost of the disease tends to be much lower here than in places such as Europe and the US which then translates through to the R&D costs associated with developing the tech.
Another part of recognising the potential of this technology stems from the interest shown by farmers – the end user of the technology.
Knowing that for many farmers ‘seeing is believing’, in June, Bovonic showcased the QuadSense technology at the Fieldays agricultural event. With over 70 farmers registering their interest in adopting the technology, this clearly demonstrated the pressing need for a solution and the value it will offer to the global dairy industry. The event also provided Bovonic a platform to engage potential investors, strategic partners, acquirers, farming groups, and distributors.
With the increasing reliance on milk production and the regulatory pressures on farmers, we’re excited about the potential of Liam’s proprietary technology to have a global impact.