Hey farmers, here are 5 wearables your cows need

Tools

Gone are the days of manually collecting data from each animal on the farm.

The world of wearable technology for livestock is growing, and Modern Farmer recently outlined five wearable device that dairy farmers could attach to their cows to better track vital data like health, location and even the presence of predators that could harm them.

Some of these wearables may even be more advanced than the devices currently available to humans.

The way that livestock wearable technology works is that solar-powered receivers in the barn pick up data from the wearables, which they then transfer to a server. From there, a farmer can look at a single dashboard and read livestock data.

Farmers may be able to get started with wearable livestock wearables for less than $1,000, said the article.

First, dairy farmers can put electronic microphones on the collars of their cattle, which can hear the differences in a cow's cud-chewing habits over time. This, said the article, is how farmers can tell if an animal is in estrus, or heat. The product is sold by Lely, a U.K.-based company that leads the agricultural world in robotic milking.


Farmer checking livestock vitals | Source: Lely North America

The second wearable may not be considered a "wearable" at all, as it's a pill that the cow ingests. Modern Farmer highlighted a company called Vital Herd that sells e-pills that sit in the cow's largest stomach for its lifetime. The article compared the health-tracking abilities – body temperature, heart rate, etc. – to that of a FitBit. If only humans had several stomachs to choose from that could forever house an electronic pill, that pesky wristband would no longer be an issue.

The third and fourth wearables on the list are e-tags and electronic ID earrings. Farmers clip e-tags to the cow's ears to keep track of body temperature, which cost about $10 per animal, said Modern Farmer.

Similarly, the electronic ID earrings are tagged on the cattle's ears and contain information about the animal like bought/sold status, last health checkup or location. Farmers can read the tags via a wand that's Bluetooth-enabled.

According to the article, the tags are only $2 or $3 a piece, while the readers are $250. If you want extras like GPS or long distance scanning for multiple animals, you'll have to shell out extra.

Livestock wearables aren't just for monitoring health. Sometimes they're used to keep animals safe from predators. Modern Farmer cited a South African company making sheep collars that flash and ring when predators come up on free-range animals.

Meanwhile, an Israeli start-up called Cattle Watch that is tinkering with a GPS collar for cows that creates invisible fences. And with this collar, farmers would be able to send drones by way of their smartphones to see what's going on in the field.

These wearables would obviously be best for commercial farmers with large numbers of livestock. According to research from IDTechEx, the animal wearables industry is set to grow over the next nine years as the number of these vendors will increase from 300 to 500.

For more:
- read the Modern Farmer article

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