We are thrilled to lead the $32M NZD Series B round in Halter, a hardware startup that has created a new approach to dairy farming.
Halter bridges the gap between human and animal understanding to unlock a new, more sustainable farm of the future. The company has developed an Internet of Things wearable collar that uses Pavlovian conditioning to teach the cow to move in response to different signals (vibrations and sounds) triggered by the collar. Using the Halter app, the farmer can direct the cows to move anywhere on the farm, set schedules for when things should happen, monitor pasture growth and more efficiently run their farm all from their phone.
The sensors and algorithms that Halter has developed can also detect and predict when cows are unwell, calving, near waterways, and a number of other behaviours, providing greater levels of intelligence and insight into animal (and land) health.
A Wild Heart
Blackbird’s mission is to back “wild hearts with the wildest of ideas, right at the beginning”. We define a ‘wild heart’ as a person who is doing their life’s work, relentlessly resourceful and mission driven. Halter CEO Craig Piggott fits this description to a tee.
Craig grew up on a dairy farm in the Waikato district (the main dairy region of NZ) seeing his parents work 100 hour weeks and was involved from a young age in running the farm to get all the work done. He went to University of Auckland to study mechanical engineering and got involved in the uni’s Formula SAE Team, then joined Rocket Lab in its early years, first as an engineer and then in a Special Operations role.
Inspired by the example of Rocket Lab to fundamentally change industries, Craig quit and started Halter. Initially building the collars himself, despite not having an electrical engineering background, and trialling them on his parents’ farm. Over the course of a year, he managed to hack through 20 versions to complete the proof of concept prototype.
The remarkable thing about Craig is that his passion for product and customer happiness is matched by his passion for company building. If you have not yet listened to the Wild Hearts podcast interview with Craig, we strongly encourage you to.
(Still) The Good Old Days
If there was one company that convinced me that a dedicated New Zealand office and fund was required, it was Halter. Although we are joining the company not quite at the beginning, it is a journey we are excited to be on.
It’s early days but we are confident that this is a life-changing product that customers will flock to buy. Halter’s very first customer moved their entire family to Europe for a 1 year sabbatical just 3 weeks after installing Halter. They now run their farm completely remotely (save for a local farm hand doing a daily milking) from their iPhones.
Farming is undergoing a transition. Where it was once an inherited vocation, today older generations are retiring and the younger generation doesn't want to continue farming. Farms are being professionally managed and this new breed of professional manager is a more savvy technology consumer.
At the same time, there is a movement towards more sustainable, ethical farming. Halter enables both of these developments. It provides information about location and cows’ proximity to waterways as well as the deep insights into animal welfare. It also shows great potential to enable farmers to move to less intensive forms of farming, such as year-round calving, and even regenerative farming models.
The bull case (pun intended) is that in a decade, Halter achieves ubiquity on farms - like a milking shed or a tractor today. This will enable premium branded dairy products to be brought to market that are better for animals and the planet.
If you're inspired by Halter's mission, get involved. They're currently hiring for a number of roles across product, software, hardware and marketing. Learn more and apply here.