Facial recognition for cows in focus as Irish start-up Cainthus gets backing

Cargill takes minority stake in Dublin-based machine vision company focused on agtech

Cainthus, an Irish agtech start-up that has developed facial recognition for cows, has received an undisclosed equity investment from Cargill, one of the largest privately held corporations in the United States.

In addition to taking a minority stake in the Dublin-based machine vision company, Cargill has also agreed a strategic partnership with the start-up to bring its groundbreaking technology to dairy farms across the world.

While the companies initially intend to focus on the dairy segment, the plan is to quickly expand to other species, including swine, poultry and aqua.

Cainthus uses breakthrough predictive imaging to monitor the health and wellbeing of livestock. Its proprietary software uses images to identify individual animals based on hide patterns and facial recognition, and tracks key data such as food and water intake, heat detection and behaviour patterns. The software then delivers analytics that drive on-farm decisions that can impact milk production, reproduction management and overall animal health.


The company’s imaging technology can identify individual cows by their features in several seconds to memorise an animal’s unique identity, recording individual pattern and movements. That information is used as part of an artificial intelligence-driven mathematical algorithm that conveys imagery into feed and water intake analysis, behavioural tracking and health alerts that can be sent directly to farmers.

Anticipate issues

Data gleaned from those images is used to anticipate issues and adjust feeding regimens, meaning that what used to be a manual process that took days or weeks, now takes place in near real-time.

"We are enthused about what this partnership will mean for farmers across the world," said David Hunt, president and co-founder, Cainthus.

“Cargill is a natural partner for us, given their focus on bringing a world-class digital capability to the market and their understanding of how technology will truly help farmers succeed. We think this partnership will be a game changer for farmers because it will allow them to efficiently scale their business,” he added.

Minneapolis-based Cargill, which is still owned by the same family that established the company 153 years ago, is one of the world’s largest crop traders and meat producers. The company has 155,000 employees in 70 countries and more than 20,000 staff working for its animal nutrition business.

Our shared vision is to disrupt and transform how we bring insights and analytics to dairy producers worldwide," said Sri Raj Kantamneni, managing director for Cargill's digital insights business.

“Our customers’ ability to make proactive and predictive decisions to improve their farm’s efficiency, enhance animal health and wellbeing, reduce animal loss, and ultimately increase farm profitability are significantly enhanced with this technology,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist