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High Tech Invades Livestock

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Touch the Soil News #294

While humans may have objections to being tagged and monitored for everything possible – livestock has no choice. Following are a few of the high tech items moving into the livestock arena.

One of the world's largest feedlots in remote SW Idaho has a capacity of 150,000 head. Congested confined animal feeding operations often contribute to the health problems that high tech is trying ameliorate. (photo - Benjamin Gisin)

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  1. TekVet produces a small electronic tag that fits inside a cow’s ear canal for the lifetime of the animal. It measures temperature. Changes in core body temperature is the first indication of an oncoming illness that a rancher can treat early and remediation is more effective.
  2. Vital Herd produces an e-pill that sits in the rumen (the largest of a cow’s stomachs) for the life of the animal. The electronic pill continuously transmits data to the farmer via cloud-base software. The e-pill collects body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, pH levels and other basic information.
  3. Lely, a large UK based ag-tech company has created the robotic grazing system that comes with electronic leg bands that interact with sensors mounted in the barn and pasture that follow a cow through the day to ensure it gets fed and milked as efficiently as possible – even opening and closing gates. The device also records and sends other health and activity data.
  4. Ear tags to identify a particular cow have become electronified. Each time an animal is bought or sold, moved to a new field or given a health check, the tag is scanned. Up-scale tags can even contain GPS tracking.
  5. GPS cowbells are being developed overseas. They can emit flashing lights and an alarm when a predator approaches. The devices can create invisible fences which limit where livestock travel on open range.

Following is a short video on the Vital Herd e-pill:

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