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How SomaDetect’s AI-Powered AgTech Solution is Producing Better Quality Dairy

Dairy farming is one of the most well-established industries worldwide—an estimated $500 trillion global commodity. And with the help of Canadian agricultural technology company SomaDetect, it is also becoming one of the most technically advanced.    

The company’s patented two-part system uses an in-line optical sensor and deep-learning algorithms to provide dairy farmers with valuable insights into their herd’s health, reproductive performance, and milk quality.

“There are more than 40,000 dairy farms across North America. It’s staggering to think about the endless care and effort that goes into each animal,” says SomaDetect CEO Dr. Bethany Deshpande. “We are empowering these farmers by turning information into insights they can use daily.”

Healthier Cows, Better Quality Milk

It is no secret that healthy cows produce higher-quality milk. But monitoring herd health is one of the most crucial yet time-consuming tasks a dairy farmer manages. One way to measure bovine health is somatic cells, a mixture of milk-producing and immune cells. These cells can be used as a marker for disease and milk quality.

SomaDetect’s in-line monitoring system tracks a cow’s somatic cell count (SCC) daily. High somatic cell counts can indicate an udder infection or similar disease, leading to decreased milk production and quality and increased veterinary costs. With an estimated 12 million cows across the United States and Canada, an unhealthy herd can be costly.

“Farmers can use our technology to identify those health risks sooner and, as a result, ensure their cows are getting the appropriate treatment faster,” explains Deshpande. 

The company has already seen promising results on this front. In a recent study, farms trialing the company’s SCC algorithm reported reduced antibiotic usage by an average of 50 percent—a tangible proof point of healthier animals. 

The technology can also clue farmers into their herd’s reproductive health as early as 18 days after breeding, informing herd managers and productive technicians if a dairy cow is pregnant or if the breeding attempt was unsuccessful—also known as a cow’s open status. More than 15 farms across North America currently use the company’s optical sensor and AI-powered technology in their day-to-day operation.

Leveraging Technology for Better Herd Health

SomaDetect’s monitoring system fits into a dairy’s existing milking lines without the need for costly renovation or new equipment. It uses light scattering technology and computer vision to detect herd health indicators. The team has also developed a series of deep-learning models to analyze and pinpoint anomalies, such as a spike in somatic cells, that could indicate disease and other concerns. 

The patented technology offers individualized care and a better quality of life for a farm’s hardworking bovines. By leveraging artificial intelligence, farmers can ensure that each cow is monitored at every milking. And as the company’s research proves, healthier and happier cows produce higher quality dairy. SomaDetect-enhanced farms reported improved bulk tank milk quality by upwards of 50 percent.

As Deshpande explains, data and insight are moving the dairy industry forward: “This is better data for farmers to make informed decisions. This is better milk for consumers who want to trust the products they buy. And, of course, this is a better quality of life for these hardworking animals.”

Founded in 20216, SomaDetect has headquarters in Canada, and New York State. The company was named one of the Canadian Innovation Exchange’s top 20 brands in 2017 and was recognized as the winner of the 2023 Digital Agriculture Summit Startup Showcase. Discover how SomaDetect is changing the dairy industry for farmers, consumers, and cows at