Farmers give cows texting collars

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9091611/Farmers-give-cows-texting-collars.html

James Hall

By , Consumer Affairs Editor

Using the same 3D motion sensors found in Wii computer game consoles, the   ‘intelligent’ collars pick up subtle changes in the cows’ movements and   behaviour.

The collars then send a text message to the farmer’s phone or computer using   the wireless 3G network.

The technology is saving farmers dozens of man-hours a week that would   otherwise be spent closely monitoring each cow. It also saves them hundreds   of pounds in vets’ bills by allowing them to deal with cows’ illnesses   before they get serious.

Emma Vance, who runs a farm with her parents in Wigtownshire in South-West   Scotland, has fitted 80 of the £75 collars on her herd of 150 Holstein cows.

“It is like having an extra member of staff 24-7,” said Ms Vance, who has been   using the collars for around six months.

Accurate measurement of when a cow is on heat can vastly increase the   pregnancy rates – and therefore profitability – of a herd.

Ms Vance said: “For every day that a cow is not pregnant, it costs the farmer   £5. These collars mean that you don’t miss a pregnancy window.”

Computer chips in the collars contain an algorithm of the behaviour of   thousands of cows, against which the wearer’s movements are benchmarked.

The devices have been jointly developed by The University of Strathclyde,   supermarket William Morrisons, and the Scottish Agricultural College, as   well as agricultural and technology groups NMR, Harbro, Well Cow and   Embedded Technology Solutions.

The Government-backed Technology Strategy Board has given a grant towards the   £1.4 million project to develop the technology.

David Evans, head of agriculture at Morrisons, said: “The future of farming is   extremely important to us as a business, as is animal welfare. This   technology can help secure it be allowing farmers to monitor the health   conditions of individual cows far more easily and accurately.”

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