Self-sustaining farming proving to be a sustainable business for Ukko Robotics
The ingenuity behind Ukko Robotics’ livestock management systems is best summarized every time co-founders Katrina Jean-Laflamme and Daniel Badiou look across the table and remind each other “you know we have chickens right?”.
Daniel grew up on a farm near Notre Dame de Lourdes in southern Manitoba where he experienced early on the all-encompassing life that farming entails.
“The work never stops when you own a farm,” said Badiou. “If you want to be successful you’re constantly working on something – no holidays, no time off, just the next job that needs to get done.”
As he grew older, that reality led Badiou to look for processes that could improve farm management and maximize both time and revenue – the two most critical elements in any farm operation.
That led to the development of ROVA.
“ROVA is a fully independent chicken barn that lets you spend your time on other part of your business while it maintains a self-sustaining poultry operation,” says Badiou. “The modular units maintain heat, grass, litter and water and come with a 360-degree monitoring system that provides instant alerts and updates to your mobile device.”
The units also feature interior cameras that offer 24/7 remote viewing access via mobile application, and are also solar powered with backups that can last up to five days without recharging.
“All of the automated features ROVA offers are designed to do exactly what farmers have been needing for generations – add more hours to the day,” said Badiou. “With ROVA, people can add a new addition to their farm to supplement their income or they can offset existing work and focus on other areas. It’s all about giving farmers flexibility and maximizing all the hard work they put into their business.”
ROVA is currently in its fifth prototype, with plans to complete the final commercial version and bring to market in summer, 2019. Although Ukko’s initial plans are to focus on Canada and other North American markets, they see great potential for ROVA internationally.
And the potential growth doesn’t stop there, as ROVA represents what Badiou and Jean-Laflamme hope will be the first in a series of fully-automated livestock management units.
“We started with poultry because it’s the most complicated from an automation standpoint and requires very specific temperature control, feed management, predator protection and so on,” said Badiou. “Once we have ROVA perfected and introduced to the market, the plan is to take the same concepts and apply it to other livestock to create a complete line of automated farm products.”
To get to this point in the company’s evolution, Ukko Robotics has drawn upon expertise from a variety of sources, including North Forge Technology Exchange.
“From a strategic standpoint, North Forge has played a big part in taking ROVA from concept to reality,” said Badiou. “Along the way we’ve needed guidance with grants, legal and finance, and North Forge has always been able to point us in the right direction to help keep the business moving forward.”