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Merck animal health to acquire virtual livestock fencing developer

Merck Animal Health has announced that it will acquire Vence, a California-based virtual fencing start-up by the end of September. 

Launched in 2016, the company's origins come from research by Dean Anderson, a USDA Animal Range Scientist, who developed the idea of using audio longitudinal waves and GPS tracking to monitor the movement of cattle as they rotational graze pastures with the use of computers or smartphones. 

Vence and virtual fencing could be the key to more efficient fencing for producers burdened with repairs of stationary or purchasing hi-tensile fences. This option could also make producers more efficient with their pastures and grazing management plan.  

"This new technology will give cow-calf producers the ability to track their cattle and the ability to move them from pasture to pasture," says Rick Deluca, president of Merck Animal Health. 

Last year, Vence worked with Oklahoma State University to enhance its technology research, including over 20 head of cattle at the university's Bluestem Research Range in Stillwater, wearing GPS collars for two weeks. 

As cattle graze around the pasture, an auditory cue will sound, warning the animal that it is near an off-limits zone. If they continue to approach the area, an electric stimulus is sent through the collar to warn the cattle and train them to be aware of the zones, according to Oklahoma State University.

Since last year, the collars have been available as a subscription service with cost based per animal in the United States and some regions of Australia. 

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