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Farmers who don’t have a veterinarian close by can have difficulty getting quick information and resources for their animal health and management issues. A team of Prairie View A&M University researchers in Texas has developed a smart device app to help farmers get improved access to veterinary care, especially in remote areas.
Dr. Paul Johnson is leading this research. He says he came up with the idea for the app called VetLink after attending a goat field day and discovered there is a need for this. The app can’t give you a diagnosis or prescribe medication. But, if you see symptoms in a goat that you’re not familiar with, there are two options.
"One, you search the app describing the symptoms that you have observed, then the app will provide suggestions," says Johnson. "The next option is you take a picture, upload the picture to our server describing the symptoms that you have observed, and then someone will get back with you and give you some suggestions as to the possible cause."
The app is a still a work-in-progress. As of now it’s only meant for goats, but Johnson’s goal is to have it available for all meat animals. The next phase is to incorporate artificial intelligence where you can call a veterinarian from the app.
"And, the veterinarian can also see the pictures that the farmer is seeing and they can make some form of decision there, whether yes I need to visit your farm immediately, or this will be okay I can come tomorrow, or this is what you need to do right away," says Johnson.