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Monitoring Livestock Health and Welfare Remotely

05 February 2011

New research from Scotland could allow farmers to monitor the status of their herd remotely, writes Chris Harris for TheCattleSite.

An intelligent monitoring system is being developed that will tell the farmer about individual movements of cattle and be able to see changes in movement which could indicate welfare problems or even the fertility status of the cow.

The team from Embedded Technology solutions says the system can show when a cow's movements change and this change in movement can determine the oestrus of the animal and accurately predict timings for artificial insemination.

The system - the Silent Herdsman - monitors the movements of the cow through a transmitter in a collar around the cow's neck.

The transmitter only transmits when there is a change in the cow's movement and the information can be recorded on a PC and can be disseminated through the internet to a phone or other receiving devices.

"Technology can be used as a platform for conveying welfare information about individual animals without the need for husbandry practices, which represent a significant cost to the farmer," Ivan Andonovic from Embedded Technology Solutions told a recent research and development conference organised by Quality Meat Scotland in Perth.

"As a result of the low cost and wide availability of digital processing, storage and communication technologies, it has now become cost effective to monitor and capture representations of the condition of individual systems or processes to a level of detail that has been previously unknown.

"As a consequence, welfare monitoring can take place with greater regularity than would be practical with farm staff allowing remote access, removing the need for potentially expensive specialised farm staff interventions to collect data."

Dr Andonovic said that apart from monitoring movements that show when the cows are ready for artificial insemination, the device should also monitor other welfare and health issues such as lameness, illness and parturition.

He said the accuracy of the Silent Herdsman system has been measured to be 86 per cent.

He added that he is now looking for the farming community to come forward with further applications to which the remote monitoring can be applied to develop the technology further.


February 2011

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