Belfast tech start-up raises $2.5m to keep an eye on cows

14 Sep 2021

Terry Canning. Image: CattleEye

Founded in 2019, CattleEye has developed AI-based video analytics tech for monitoring livestock.

Belfast-based CattleEye has raised $2.5m in seed funding to commercially launch its AI-powered cattle-monitoring system in the market later this year.

The funding round was led by Techstart Ventures with participation from Paris-based Seventure Partners and Amazon-backed Turntide Technologies.

Founded in early 2019 by CEO Terry Canning and CTO Adam Askew, CattleEye develops AI-powered video analytics to help livestock farmers better manage their business. The company says its technology can increase animal welfare and reduce carbon emission intensity by around half a tonne per cow annually.

Canning, whose father was a dairy farmer from Co Armagh, teamed up with AI technologist Askew to create a system that could monitor dairy cows without the use of any hardware. The company previously raised $1m in pre-seed funding.

“We are really excited to be bringing the very latest in deep learning and artificial intelligence technology to one of oldest industries in world, livestock farming,” said Canning. “This recent investment will give us the firepower to increase productivity, animal welfare and decrease the carbon footprint of millions of dairy cows across the globe.”

Ryan Morris, CEO of Silicon Valley-based Turntide Technologies, added: “Our company’s mission is to ‘turn the tide’ on climate change and CattleEye fits that by reducing dairy cow carbon emission intensity using camera technology that requires no hardware or devices to be attached to a cow.”

Tech can ‘outperform’ human expert

CattleEye said that the first version of its product can detect locomotion deviations – a phenomenon that is strongly correlated to lameness in cows. It said that its technology had “outperformed an expert human”, according to an assessment by a UK university due to be published next month.

Lameness in cows is the “top syndrome of concern” impacting cattle in the UK, according to a survey by Ruminant Health and Welfare. CattleEye said that many of the farms trialling its technology have reported a dramatic reduction in lameness levels within a short period of time.

CattleEye is preparing for the commercial launch of its technology in the market later this year. Big UK retail players Tesco and Marks & Spencer are already using the tech, while the US-based Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding is trialling the start-up’s product to see if its data can be used to improve cow health through genomic selection.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic