Mastitis is the most pressing disease affecting dairy cows and antibiotics are the main available option with close to 50% of the manufactured antibiotics are used in cattle, mainly for preventive measures.
The continued use of antibiotics in the treatment and prevention of infections of dairy cows contribute to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria that may be transferred to humans, thereby reducing the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs for treating human disease which is a growing global threat and an urgent matter of particular public interest.
The continued use of antibiotics also weakens the cow’s health, decreasing its milk production and eventually, these weak cows are removed from the herd, causing high economic losses that can reach €2.4B per year in Europe alone.
Armenta was established to address these pressing economic effects, making dairy farming more sustainable with a revolutionary way of using Acoustic Pulse Technology (APT) applied specifically for dairy cattle.
Armenta aims at becoming a leader in 1) fighting the spread of AMR 2) boosting the dairy economy giving €1.4B cash back to the EU farmers each year 3) increasing cow’s welfare and longevity.
APT is based on the ballistic impact of two masses powered by high pressurized air. This unique design enables the development of a powerful but small device (APT-X1) that generates the acoustic pulses using a detachable (as it erodes with time) applicator module (AM-2) which was specifically designed to enable the coverage of a large treatment area but maintaining the power of the pulses at therapeutic levels, making treatment time short and practical when dealing with large farm animals, like dairy cattle.
The overall objective of the project was to develop a 2nd generation APT-X hand-held device, making it light-weighted, smart APT-X system (APT-X2h) with a durable applicator module (AM-3) as well as developing a treatment station (APT-X2e) that addresses the needs of medium-large farms in terms of labour efficiency. In addition, another objective of the project is the development of in-line, real-time Somatic Cell Detector (SCD) to enable early detection of mastitis for more efficient use of APT in the farm. These products are planned to be launched upon completion of the Horizon 2020 project, on 2H/2022.
Based on the know-how obtained, and the feedback received using the first version of the hand-held device, namely the APT-X1, the device was improved, and a new design was developed that better addresses the needs of small dairy farms, mainly for a lighter weight and more user-friendly application of APT by the farmer, such as fewer needs of replacing the consumable applicator module, the AM, as a more durable one was developed.
Applying APT in medium-large farms using the APT-X hand-held device require labour needs which they are short of it. For that reason, an APT based treatment station was developed that enable large scale application and treatment of high number of cows designed as such that it will be optimally integrated to the current workflow of those farms.
Additional work that was carried out so far is the development of a somatic cell detector (SCD) device that will enable early detection of sub-clinical mastitis during milking to allow better use of APT in farm to prevent the manifestation of the disease to clinical one.
Armenta aims at making APT the standard practice in the treatment of bovine mastitis and therefore become an integral part of a smart and sustainable herd health management.
APT have the potential to have large socio-economic impact as it can scale up from the following reasons:
(1) A comprehensive solution to better herd health management, beyond bovine mastitis treatment to prevention of this pressing disease and boosting in general the udder health to increase production therefore strengthening farmers financial capacity, enabling them to address the growing demand for milk and milk products.
(2) The technology has a wide applicability towards other non-antibiotic treatments for other bovine diseases. Clinical validation in treating mastitis will open a range of future applications such as treatment of bovine reproduction disorders and bovine lameness – both treated mainly by antibiotics. Other livestock animals in the dairy industry, such as goats and sheep also face the same consequences of mastitis.