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A smart collar to monitor the health of cows


26 July 2012

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A smart collar which monitors the health of cows and sends the results back to farmers using mobile phone technology is being developed as part of a three-year-project co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board in UK.

The collar is the result of a joint project between The University of Strathclyde, Morrisons, Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), NMR, Harbro, Well Cow and Embedded Technology Solutions – who are developing the technology.

The equipment involves each cow wearing an intelligent collar that picks up on subtle movements with the same sensor used in Wii gaming and generates a continuous record of their activity patterns. Results will then be sent back using a range of wireless technologies like 3G, with a full update accessible via a hub or even through a mobile phone. It is envisaged that farmers can set up alerts for their phone to receive a text when a cow is in distress, coming in to heat or entering labour.

Wireless technology means that the signal from the cow’s collar would be accessible from anywhere, so farmers can check on their cattle’s status using their phone wherever they are. It will provide vital improvements in the important areas of cow illness and streamline the insemination process.

By accurately sensing the cow’s head positions in three dimensions, the collar will be able to detect if the animal’s hind legs begin to lower: one of the initial signs of illness.

The sensor on the collar will also detect when a cow is coming into heat and alert the farmer so he can optimise the process of insemination, increasing cow pregnancy rates.

With both efficient insemination and cow health crucial for farm profitability, the development could help to sustain the financial future of farms.

 
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