Halter – dubbed to be the future of farming - has made its way to the Te Awamutu area and a local farmer says the company's system has transformed the way he runs his farm.
Pete Morgan runs a dairy farm on a 265ha block in Pokuru with 630 crossbred cows, and started using Halter in November.
"We saw that the long-term solutions for farming needed smart-tech solutions and Halter has the capacity to get us there," says Pete.
Halter has produced leading-edge hardware - a solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collar - and state-of-the-art software compromising an app.
Together they make a farm management tool that allows farmers to remotely shift herds, virtually fence their paddocks, track their stock, increase pasture utilisation and
proactively monitor their cows' health, feed and behaviour.
"By automating some of the most critical tasks in farming, Halter has essentially unlocked a new way for farmers to work and live," says Halter business development manager Steve Crowhurst.
Pete says Halter is saving him significant time each day.
Halter has found that its product and system saves farmers up to 20 hours a week while increasing production outputs, animal welfare and sustainability standards.
"It's been awesome and has transformed the way we run the farm, making our system simple, clear and thorough," says Pete.
Halter was founded in 2016 by Craig Piggott, who grew up on a dairy farm in Morrinsville.
During a formative role at Rocket Lab, Craig learnt how technology could revolutionise an industry and was determined to apply that approach to innovation and his engineering know-how to farming.
"Craig made it his mission to reinvent farming to benefit farmers, cows, and land," says Steve.
Understanding cow behaviour is paramount to Halter.
So much so that it invented and trademarked Cowgorithm – a sophisticated set of algorithms developed and tested by them that translates human intentions into signals that an animal can understand, and animal behaviour into insights a human can understand.
Once a cow is fitted with a smart collar by Halter's specialised team, they gently start training the herd and gradually introduce the system.
It takes four to five days for the cows to learn how to navigate the farm using their collar.
Sound and vibration gently guide cows to and from a shed, or between paddocks.
Vibration signals let the cow know she's on the right path, while sound lets her know she is moving towards a boundary.
This system removes the need for stressful techniques used to manage herds.
The smart collars are designed to be updated remotely in the field so new features and capabilities are delivered directly to collars over the air.
Halter's system also enables farmers to keep a closer eye on and monitor the health and wellbeing of their cows using heat and health alerts.
Steve says they have deployed Halter at several Waikato commercial farms, and they have a growing number of signed farms awaiting deployment.
"We recognise there is extreme demand for Halter in other New Zealand regions".
To meet demand, Halter is hiring another 100 staff to service the excess demand in the Waikato and then to enable the rollout into other regions this year.
It is most likely that Canterbury will be next to be introduced to the future of farming.