VC-backed UK Dairy Technology Silent Herdsman Acquired by Israel’s Afimilk

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Israeli dairy farm management technology provider Afimilk has acquired Silent Herdsman, a private VC-funded company based in the UK.

In March 2014, Silent Herdsman raised a $4.3 million venture funding round, according to CrunchBase. Investors that participated include UK growth equity and venture capital partner Scottish Equity Partners, UK small company venture capital investors Albion, and the investment arm of The Scottish Investment Bank.

Silent Herdsman has developed a neck-collar monitoring system used to detect estrus and health problems in dairy cows. The device, which is currently used in hundreds of dairy farms throughout Europe, is intended to help dairy farmers spend less time visually observing their herd and more time taking proactive steps to treat emerging problems.

The acquisition highlights the emerging animal health and welfare startup space, which raised $50 million in venture funding last year, according to AgFunder’s upcoming 2015 investing report. But this is much less than other sectors of agtech such food e-commerce or precision agriculture, which have received much more attention from entrepreneurs and VCs.

To maintain milk production, dairy cows must be bred regularly. Determining when the cow is ready to breed or whether health problems have arisen that might impact her breeding capability, is critical to keeping operations flowing smoothly. If the problem is not detected promptly, the cow will most likely be culled until the issue is resolved, or butchered.

Developed with the Scottish Government’s support, the patented, neck-mounted device tracks cow activity, rumination, and eating patterns to help farmers keep a closer track of each cow’s condition. The collar transmits data wirelessly to a central computer on the farm using a base station. The farmer can also receive alerts to his or her cell phone or tablet using the software’s cloud computing platform.

Shortly before the acquisition announcement, Silent Herdsman launched a number of new fertility and health management features, including a dashboard that provides users with better interfacing. The new platform includes an illness health alert system, upgraded fertility management providing vet reports, segment specific herd management options, and the mySilent Herdsman app for smart phones and tablets.

According to one Silent Herdsman user, conception rates increased after implementation of the device. The user also found it easy to keep tabs with his herd while he was on vacation.

AfiMilk has provided dairy-focused technological solutions for 40 years and operates in 50 countries worldwide. The company manufactures the leg-mounted AfiAct II Automatic Cow Heat Detection device that aids in fertility management. By measuring the walking, resting, and standing activity of milk cows and heifers, AfiAct’s sensor enables round-the-clock monitoring.

“Silent Herdsman complements Afimilk’s popular AfiAct II product line with unique functionality and powerful features based on new technology,” said Afimilk CEO Yuval Rachmilevitz in a recent press release.

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